Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Amendment Would Clarify Lawyers’ Responsibilities In Providing Services to Medical Marijuana Clients

The Ohio Supreme Court today announced a proposed amendment to the Rules of Professional Conduct clarifying the ethical responsibilities of lawyers under the state’s new medical marijuana law. The Supreme Court will accept public comment through Sept. 18.

If adopted, the proposed amendment would modify the provision in Prof. Cond. R. 1.2(d) by adding a new subsection, which reads:

“A lawyer may counsel or assist a client regarding conduct expressly permitted under Sub.H.B. 523 of the 131st General Assembly authorizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes and any state statutes, rules, orders, or other provisions implementing the act. In these circumstances, the lawyer shall also advise the client regarding related federal law.”

The need to clarify the services attorneys can offer clients arose after an Aug. 11 non-binding advisory opinion issued by the independent Board of Professional Conduct. The Board’s advisory opinion acknowledged the state’s new law, but also stated that prohibitions in federal law might create ethical problems for lawyers counseling or assisting a client with regard to the new state law, depending upon the nature of the services their clients are seeking.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor today reiterated the need for the Court to move expeditiously, yet with due diligence. “We will revisit the issue after examining public comments, which serve as a backstop to identify any unintended consequences that haven’t been uncovered so far,” she said.

Public comment should be submitted in writing or via email by Sept. 18 to:

John VanNorman, Senior Policy and Research Counsel
Ohio Supreme Court
65 S. Front St., Seventh Floor
Columbus, OH 43215