The American Bar Association this week approved a resolution calling on Congress to ensure that lawyers can provide counsel to state-complaint clients in the marijuana space without fear of federal prosecution.
A report accompanying the resolution noted that a majority of states now legalize marijuana for medical use, recreational use or both. And yet it still remains illegal at the federal level.
“This tension between federal and state laws directly impacts attorneys with clients in or interested in entering state-authorized marijuana business activities,” according to the report, submitted by the association’s Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section.
“Regardless of state law, so long as marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance such client’s marijuana business activities remain federally criminal conduct,” the report continued. “Thus, the provision of legal advice and services to assist clients in such conduct may also in itself constitute a criminal offense, whether under a theory of conspiracy or aiding and abetting.”
The one-sentence resolution asks Congress to “clarify and explicitly ensure” that lawyers can legally advise clients about compliance with state-legal marijuana-related activities.
The resolution’s co-author, Day Pitney counsel Steven Cash in Washington, recently spoke to Law.com about how the ABA measure came to be. Here are some excerpts from that conversation, edited for length and clarity.
Read the interview at the link