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Charles E. Murphy

Of Counsel
fax +1 248.988.2331

Charles E. Murphy represents cannabis industry participants involved in business, licensing, compliance, and regulatory matters.

Charles represents industry participants involved in the burgeoning medical and recreational cannabis industry. He counsels clients on business entity formation, structuring and planning to; negotiating and drafting operating and shareholder agreements; equity financing in private placements and subscription agreements, and loan transactions and structures for marihuana businesses; buying and selling of cannabis businesses; planning for and implementing transfers of licenses; mergers and acquisitions of marihuana businesses; and negotiating and drafting management services, licensing and supply contracts.

Charles helps cannabis industry clients navigate the marihuana regulatory landscape pertaining to licensing, compliance, and operations for all license types at the state and local government level. He has guided cannabis clients through the nuances of state license applications and competitive municipal license applications, followed by administrative appeals and litigation. His services include appearing before municipal governing bodies and planning commissions to advocate for changes to proposed ordinances.

Real estate planning and acquisitions are critical to growing your marihuana business while minimizing economic exposure. Charles can guide you through real property acquisition and leasing strategies to minimize risk prior to obtaining a license and counsel you on development strategies, and site plan and zoning issues, from drafting planned unit development agreements to conducting zoning board of appeal hearings. He has counseled food distributors on the purchase, distribution, and sale of CBD and Hemp derived products.

Charles has helped cannabis industry clients establish markets by advocating that municipalities enact opt-in ordinances, drafting proposed ordinances, and voter initiatives to opt-in. He counseled the ballot committee for the 2017 City of Detroit opt-in initiative ballot ordinances under the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act, appeared before the Detroit Election Commission, obtained a September 2017 writ of mandamus compelling the City of Detroit to place the opt-in initiative petition on the ballot, and then defended the two City of Detroit voter-approved initiative ordinances.

Charles is a frequent author and lecturer on marihuana business topics with the Institute for Continuing Legal Education, industry publications, and the Marijuana Law and Business Law Sections of the State Bar of Michigan.


J.D., Wayne State University Law School, Detroit, Michigan, 1978
B.A., with high distinction, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, 1975


Named a Leading Lawyer in Birmingham by Leading Lawyers℠ (2017-2024)


American Bar Association, Business Law and Litigation Sections

Oakland County Bar Association, Public Advisory Committee evaluating judicial candidates (2002)

State Bar of Michigan, Chairperson (1996-1998), Committee on Legal Education

Michigan Super Lawyers – business Litigation 2007 and 2008

Public Member, Board of Radiology, American Board of Physician Specialists (2010-2021)

Board Member Marvin Winans Academy of Performing Arts K-8 Charter School in Detroit

State Bar Licenses


Court Admissions

U.S. District Ct., E.D. of Michigan
U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit

Recent Matters:

  • Defending Detroit voter-approved medical marihuana opt-in initiative ordinances in 2018 and obtaining writ of mandamus compelling City of Detroit to place two initiative ordinances on the November 2017 ballot, including the opt-in licensing ordinance for medical marihuana
  • Filing numerous litigation matters from 2017 to present with municipalities over zoning approval of marihuana facilities, medical marihuana regulatory ordinances, and applications for licenses and scoring.
  • Representing more than 100 applicants and supplemental applicants for State of Michigan medical marihuana licensing, including one entity awarded more licenses than any other applicant to date. Represented a comparable number of applicants for municipal licensing.
  • Defending former CFO of U.S. Manufacturing against claims arising out of the 2014 acquisition of U.S. Manufacturing by Wynnchurch Capital in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
  • Representing the SEC Receiver for Legisi Marketing, Inc. vs. Sierra Equity, et al., in a FINRA arbitration. Receiver was appointed in an SEC Enforcement Proceeding that shut down the $72 Million Legisi internet Ponzi scheme. The FINRA arbitration involved securities fraud claims against the broker-dealer and representatives who sold restricted stock in former shell companies to Legisi Marketing. Arbitrators awarded $2,750,000 to Receiver after 4 weeks of hearings. See Wall Street Journal 10-9-15.
  • Representing SEC Receiver in separate securities related cases against Royal Palm Real Estate Investment Fund LLP et. al. and against Elite Consulting Group, LLC and Edgetech, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
  • Represented the shareholders and former officers of in AAA securities arbitration in Phoenix, Arizona and a federal securities action in the Central District of California arising out of the acquisition of by Autobytel related to a financial restatement by Autobytel.
  • Defended Delphi’s Director of Capital Planning in the SEC enforcement action against Delphi and its former officers and related securities matters, in the Eastern District of Michigan. Settled after 5 weeks of jury trial.
  • Obtained favorable settlement of breach of fiduciary duty claims in Oakland County Probate Court and Circuit Court actions against former trustees of a trust and manager of a real estate LLC on behalf of beneficiaries of trust and members of LLC. Orchestrated seizure of control of the trust and LLC.
  • Successfully defended Merrill Lynch Trust Company in a breach of fiduciary investment duty claim brought in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Represented Hunt Construction, the general contractor for the Northwest Airlines Mid-Field Terminal Project at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport in numerous construction cases in federal and state court arising out of delays, scheduling, acceleration, and termination of sub-contractors with over 100 million dollars at issue.
  • Successfully obtained dismissals of four cases at trial and appellate level brought by the Fort Street Presbyterian Church against the Presbytery of Detroit in the Wayne County Probate Court alleging mismanagement of two endowment funds and breaches of fiduciary investment duties.
  • Represented two registered representatives of UBS in a FINRA Review of closed-end fund trading practices at the UBS Scottsdale, Arizona office. FINRA Review discontinued following depositions.
  • Represented broker-dealer, investment advisor and two principals in FINRA arbitration involving claims of securities fraud and suitability.
  • Represented a regional bank in a FINRA arbitration against a broker-dealer and insurance company arising out of the inappropriate sale of bank-owned life insurance (BOLI) to officers of the bank.
  • Achieving a $7,000,000 settlement buy out during arbitration hearing on behalf of a minority shareholder of a precast construction company.
  • Successfully shepherding and negotiating departures of registered representatives from numerous broker-dealers and negotiating employment agreements with broker-dealers.
  • Represented several high level Collins & Aikman executives against Collins & Aikman Corporation, et al., in an adversary proceeding in United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division. Case involved issue of whether the Collins & Aikman “Top Hat Plan” for executives complied with the Plan and ERISA so as to be excluded from the debtor’s estate.
  • Obtained a favorable settlement on behalf of two beneficiaries of a substantial family trust against a bank and one of the largest Michigan law firms in a case involving breach of the prudent investor rule and breach of fiduciary duties in the management of a hedge fund which stuffed its gain to the trust.
  • Served as an internal arbitrator at Henry Ford Health Systems in a physician staff privilege hearing.
  • Represented the Russian Federation and its Federal Atomic Energy Agency (FAAE) in a federal action in the Eastern District of Michigan to recover $300 million of smuggled isotopes from a Russian company and its majority shareholder who had fled to St. Kitts.
  • Defending and achieving a favorable resolution and dismissal of a Florida construction company in an action brought by its former president in Fort Myers, Florida.
  • Serving as a facilitator in an automobile supplier contract dispute involving Johnson Controls, ThyssenKrupp Steel Services, and other entities.
  • Obtaining a no-cause following trial for (Cambridge Group Investments), an internet bond broker-dealer, in a FINRA securities arbitration brought by a customer in Los Angeles, California.
  • Representing the YMCA of Metropolitan Detroit and the American Red Cross in separate will and trust contests in Oakland County Probate Court.
  • Defending a registered representative in a FINRA arbitration brought by several customers over a failed investment sold to the customers by an unrelated promoter.
  • Presenter, “Business of Marihuana in Michigan,” Business Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, October 2018
  • Presenter, “Negotiating and Drafting Contracts in the Cannabis Industry,” Marijuana Law Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan, October 2019