22 June 2016

Cleveland.com reports on an issue that we remember popping up in other jurisdictions in the U.S

The website reports

Only the Ohio Supreme Court can discipline licensed attorneys. Lawyers have submitted at least two requests for formal opinions on the matter to the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct.

They want to know:

  • whether lawyers may represent marijuana cultivators, processors, dispensaries, patients and caregivers.
  • whether lawyers may own or operate medical marijuana businesses.
  • whether lawyers may use medical marijuana.

Board staff members plan to issue recommendations to the board in August. The board is asking for attorneys with other questions to submit them before July 11.

What’s the issue?

The new medical marijuana law allows people with about two dozen qualifying medical conditions to buy and use marijuana if recommended by a licensed Ohio physician. The law sets up a tightly regulated industry where the state awards licenses to grow, process, test and sell marijuana.

The law stipulates professional license holders — which would include attorneys — cannot be disciplined “solely for engaging in professional or occupational activities related to medical marijuana.”

But the court’s professional board operates under Supreme Court rules, which allow it to issue nonbinding advisory opinions in response to prospective or hypothetical questions about the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct.

Ohio rules prohibit attorneys from knowingly counseling or assisting a client to break the law and from committing an illegal act that “reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty or trustworthiness.” Although state lawmakers have made medical marijuana legal, the drug remains federally illegal.

Read the full report at http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2016/06/can_ohio_attorneys_use_medical.html