Federal Law Makes Medical Marijuana Legal Services Out of Bounds in Ohio
Ohio lawyers may not ethically provide legal services to a client who is establishing a medical marijuana business because of prohibitions in federal law, the Board of Professional Conduct declared today in an advisory opinion.
Acts contrary to the Rules of Professional Conduct include assisting a client in the filing of license applications, drafting of contracts for supplies, corporate entity formation and transactions involving taxation, zoning and entity formation, the Board said.
The Board also cautioned lawyers about the ethical implications associated with the personal use of medical marijuana and involvement by a lawyer in medical marijuana enterprises.
Lawyers are free to engage in certain legal services that do not directly assist in conduct that is prohibited by federal law, the Board said. Examples include representation of a client charged with violating the state medical marijuana law; representation of an employee in a wrongful discharge action related to the use of medical marijuana; and aiding state and local governments in the regulation and administration of state law.
A lawyer also may discuss the legal consequences of a client’s proposed conduct and assist the client in the determining the validity, scope, meaning and application of the law.
The Board of Professional Conduct is a quasi-judicial body appointed by the Supreme Court of Ohio, comprised of 17 lawyers, seven active or retired judges and four non-lawyers. Its advisory opinions are non-binding and are issued in regard to the application of Supreme Court Rules.
The Board’s opinion is in line with those of other jurisdictions, including the states of Colorado, Maine, Connecticut and Hawaii. Many of these jurisdictions have revised their attorney ethics rules to permit lawyers to provide legal services to persons engaged in lawful activities under their state’s medical marijuana laws.