Ohio Joins States Allowing Performance of Certain Legal Services Related to Medical Marijuana

posted by Mike Regnier on Thursday, November 17, 2016

Legal services related to medical marijuana

A number of states have legalized the sale and use of medical marijuana. Ohio was one of the latest states to do so when, effective September 8, 2016, it legalized the regulated cultivation, processing, sale and use of medical marijuana.

The Ohio Supreme Court has since amended the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct to allow lawyers to perform certain legal services related to the state’s new medical marijuana law. This amendment became effective September 20, 2016. 

A new section has been added to Professional Conduct Rule 1.2(d)(2) which provides that a lawyer may counsel a client regarding the conduct permitted under Ohio’s medical marijuana law but must also advise the client regarding the related federal law.

For additional content and a link to the rule, visit Court News Ohio’s article, Rule Change Clarifies Lawyers’ Responsibilities In Providing Services Related to Medical Marijuana.

In making this change, Ohio joins Illinois, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii as states that have altered their professional conduct rules to account for the legalization of medical marijuana in their respective states.

This rule change was in reaction to Ohio’s Board of Professional Conduct’s Advisory Opinion, issued August 11, 2016, which pointed out the ethical problems with providing legal services to those in Ohio’s medical marijuana industry.

For a full discussion of these issues, see Advisory Board Opinion 2016-6.

This rule change does not appear to impact the Advisory Board’s opinion on a lawyer’s use of medical marijuana or ownership interest in a marijuana-related business. Instead, it focuses on aspects of giving advice to those in the medical marijuana industry.

This area of the law is evolving quickly. Attorneys practicing in it need to be aware that the law is changing at a faster pace than what is normally seen.

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