Ohio Attorneys Could Help Marijuana Businesses, Patients Under Proposed Rule Change


Columbus, Ohio – Ohio attorneys would be able to assist new medical marijuana businesses and advise clients under a proposed amendment to the Ohio Supreme Court’s ethics rules.

But the proposed rule doesn’t address attorney use of medical marijuana or ownership of a medical marijuana business.

Ohio’s new medical marijuana law protects professional license holders, which would include attorneys, from discipline for working in or helping medical marijuana businesses.

But attorneys are governed by the state Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct. The board issued a non-binding advisory opinion earlier this month that said attorneys would violate ethics rules by working with medical marijuana businesses because the drug remains illegal in federal law.

In effect, the opinion blocked attorneys from providing basic business services such as representing business owners before state regulatory boards, drafting contracts with vendors and even forming corporations under state law.

The proposed amendment would add the following to the rule:

“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.”

Public comment will be accepted until Sept. 18 and can be submitted via email to John.VanNorman@sc.ohio.gov.

“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,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said in a statement.

Ohio’s new medical marijuana law, which takes effect Sept. 8, allows people with about 20 medical conditions to use and buy marijuana if recommended by a doctor. The advisory opinion also suggested attorneys could violate another ethics rule by repeatedly using medical marijuana or having an ownership interest in a medical marijuana business.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Ohio Attorneys Could Help Marijuana Businesses, Patients Under Proposed Rule Change
Author: Jackie Borchardt
Contact: Cleveland
Photo Credit: Gillian Flaccus
Website: Cleveland