Sanford M. Stein


Sanford M. Stein

Of Counsel | 312.456.2715 |

For more than 40 years, Sanford Stein has served governmental and private sector clients in an array of legislative, regulatory and judicial activities. Combining his skills in business and government relations law, he has extensive experience in infrastructure development, public finance and public-private partnership economic development, government regulations and procurement. With that background, he is also a leading authority in the regulated cannabis industry in the United States.

He began his practice with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where he was responsible for numerous enforcement and policy matters. His practice today encompasses a broad array of business regulatory matters in Illinois and across the country. He also is active in international trade matters, particularly in China, Central America and South America.

He is a leader in the fight for cannabis legalization and common sense cannabis regulations. He has assisted with cannabis legislation and rulemaking, regulatory compliance, business development, real estate, finance, banking, license applications, Tribal Government counseling and zoning for cannabis businesses in several states.

Mr. Stein is involved in international cannabis legalization having appeared before the Health Committee of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Brazil, advising on proposed national medical cannabis legislation in Brazil.

Starting with early experience with laws in other highly regulated industries, such as environmental and energy, he understands the pathway to licenses and permits for cannabis cultivation, processing and retail sales. Working with top physicians, he is also knowledgeable on the science of medical cannabis and patient care. Mr. Stein’s experience extends to Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica products, as well as Cannabis Sativa L, also known as hemp. He counsels on the use of hemp derived cannabinoids including CBD isolate and distillate, broad spectrum THC free oils, and isolates of CBN and CBG.

He is an author and lecturer on cannabis law and business, having appeared before the New York Institute of Credit, the Illinois State Bar Association, My Compassion and other distinguished groups.

His law practice is also highlighted by his work for land developers in brownfield redevelopment, annexation, urban development, zoning and land use litigation. He has been successful in complex mixed-use developments and commercial, industrial and residential projects. He also is skilled in municipal tax incentive programs, including tax increment financing, sales tax sharing programs and special service area financing.

He has significant experience in energy and environmental law, including biofuels and biomass conversion, waste-to-energy technology, energy finance, wind turbine and photovoltaic siting, battery technology, carbon reduction and green buildings.

He appeared and successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court in The Steel Company v. Citizens for a Better Environment.

He counsels clients on the environmental and energy aspects of mergers, acquisitions and property matters, as well as day-to-day operational matters and finding means for implementation of alternative energy systems. He has been a registered lobbyist in the United States and several states.


United States Supreme Court
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Northern District of Illinois


George Washington University Law School, J.D.

University of Illinois, B.A.


Best Lawyers in America, Environmental Law; Land Use & Zoning Law, 2007-present
Leading Lawyers, Real Estate, Construction & Environmental Edition, 2016

Professional Activities

American Bar Association
International Council of Shopping Centers
National Brownfields Association, Illinois Chapter, founder and executive board member
Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Illinois State Bar Association
Chicago Bar Association

Civic, Cultural & Social Activities

Lake County Regional Planning Commission, former commissioner
Uptown Community Development Corporation, board member
City Club of Chicago
Lambda Alpha International


“Ethical considerations for lawyers in the legal cannabis industry”, My Compassion Medical Cannabis Conference, July 2015

“The Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act”, Illinois State Bar Association, April 2015

“A look back at 2011 and ahead to 2012 in Transportation, Government, Environment and Energy”, Green$ense Radio, January 2012

“What’s next for High-Speed Rail in the US?”, The Bond Buyer’s 12th Annual Transportation Finance/P3 Conference, November 2011

“Bringing High Speed Rail to America,” High Speed Rail Conference, New York City, November 7, 2011

“Kratovil Conference on Real Estate Law and Practice,” John Marshall Law School (Sponsor), September 29, 2006

“Navigating the Regulatory Rapids in a Changing Environment in Illinois,” Lorman Education Series, March 16, 2006

“Land Use Law: Issues in Planning & Development,” Illinois Institute for Continuing Education, Springfield, IL, May 14, 2004

“Land Use Law: Issues in Planning & Development,” Illinois Institute for Continuing Education, Chicago, IL, April 30, 2004

“Municipal Development Incentives,” Lake County Partners, Libertyville, IL, October 7, 2003

“Water As an Economic Resource: More Precious Than Gold, More Valuable Than Oil, Water Is the Most Important Resource on Earth,” Waukegan City Club, Waukegan, IL, January 28, 2003

“Zoning and Land Use: Complex Facilities Siting, Transportation Policy and Governmental Incentives,” Lorman Educational Services, Rosemont, IL, September 27, 2002

“Inverse Condemnation of Property by Third-Party Local Governments,” OAAA/2002 Legal Seminar, Washington D.C., September 23, 2002

“Mold Mania? Looking Ahead: Legislation, Regulation, Litigation or Just Proliferation,” Toxic Mold Seminar, Lisle, IL, June 20, 2002

“Illinois Land Use: Current Issues in Subdivision, Annexation and Zoning Law,” National Business Institute, Chicago, IL, June 12, 2002

“Mold Problems in Real Estate Transactions: Dealing with the Fungus Among Us,” Lake County Bar Association, Waukegan, IL, April 11, 2002

“Current Issues and Trends in Illinois Land Use and Environmental Laws,” Lorman Educational Services, Chicago, IL, January 22, 2002

“Environmental Issues Affecting the Construction Industry: Worker Exposure, Toxic Mold, Site Remediation,” National Association of Women in Construction, Schaumburg, IL, January 15, 2002

“Strategic Planning,” Lake County Partners, Waukegan, IL, November 1, 2001

“Effective Community Presentations,” Brownfields 2001 Conference, Chicago, IL, September 24, 2001

“Legal Ethics for Environmental Lawyers: Real Problems or Much Ado About Nothing,” Great Lakes Water Law Conference, Chicago, IL, August 3, 2001

“Major Land Use Laws in Illinois,” National Business Institute, Willowbrook, IL, February 6, 2001

“‘What’s Going Down’ Downzoning in Chicago: Lifestyle Demands in a Changing Environment,” Federal Reserve Bank, Chicago, IL, November 29, 2000

“Brownsfields & Peakers,” Economic Development Seminar, Lisle, IL, September 27, 2000

“Still Standing, But For How Long? Constitutional Issues in Citizen Suits/ Qui Tam Actions,” The Network of Trial Law Firms, Inc., Scottsdale, AZ, April 6, 2000

“Environmental and Land Use Law Update,” Lake County Bar Association, Lake County, IL, March 8, 2000

“Environmental Standing,” American Iron and Steel Institute, Washington D.C., October 13, 1999

“Citizen Suits! Do They Stand A Chance After CBE v. The Steel Company,” Environmental Law Super Symposium, Los Angeles, CA, March 24, 1999

“Implications of the Steel Company v. Citizens for a Better Environment on Future Environmental Cases,” American Bar Association National Brown Bag Lunch Seminar, June 3, 1998

“The Steel Company v. Citizens for a Better Environment,” American Bar Association Annual Conference on Environmental Law, Keystone, CO, March 10, 1998

“Environmental Laws: Do They Affect Your Environomics Seminar,” June 15, 1995


Profiled in “Fascinated by Evolving Law of Environment, Energy and Government,” Leading Lawyers, 2016

“Challenges Still Ahead After Ill.’s Fracking Bill” (Co-author), Law360, June 18, 2013

“Financing Fast Track,” Energy + Infrastructure, Winter/Spring 2011

“New Eminent Domain Act in Illinois” (Co-author), Midwestern Report, June 20, 2006

“Illinois General Assembly Passes Eminent Domain Bill” (Co-author), May 11, 2006

“Illinois House of Representatives Passes Eminent Domain Bill,” (Co-author), April 25, 2006

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Sandy Stein

Practice Areas

‣ Cannabis Law, Regulations and Legislation
‣ Commercial Real Estate Finance
‣ Corporate Finance
‣ Cross-Border Transactions
‣ Energy and Environmental
‣ Real Estate Law
‣ Real Estate Development

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