Local attorney Bernard Jocuns is ready to charge forward with his most recent appointment: Chair of the newly-formed Marijuana Law Section of the Michigan Bar Association. In order to devote sufficient energy into the new Section, a first in the nation, he must step down from his previous advocacy position as Legal Counsel for MINORML.
The Section met on January 8 and elected officers. Jocuns, who initiated the group in 2015, was elected to the top position. "We received five times the number of anticipated applications," said Jocuns from his West Park Street offices in Lapeer.
"I appreciate the opportunity I got from Michigan NORML," Jocuns explained. "In order for me to focus on the task at hand, the new Section, it's best for me to resign my position as legal counsel for MINORML."
Jocuns described those duties as including organizational issues and directional ones as well. "It's my responsibility to ensure that attorneys are communicating and networking with each other." The new Section is anticipated to have at least 14 different sub-committees, based on the areas of legal specialization involved in the organization.
The Office Manager of Jocuns Law, Lapeer City Commissioner Elaine Gates, worked tirelessly with her husband in establishing the Section. Together they handled the phone calls, the inquiries and the forms necessary to meet the initial requirements of creating the Marijuana Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan.
"I am elated to put the city of Lapeer on the map in a positive way, where marijuana is concerned," Jocuns said. "This is only going to show how welcoming of a community we are."
As time goes on, Jocuns anticipates the organization will have a larger role in adopting a proper legalized marijuana program. "The Section will help define better roles for attorneys when the people choose recreational marijuana in Michigan."
The future promises plenty of work for Jocuns and the Section- including breaking new ground in old fields of law. "I, as the Chair, have a lot to learn. So does our Section's Council, which is a diverse and eclectic group."
Jocuns became Legal Counsel for Michigan's NORML chapter in 2015, before applying to the Michigan Bar Association to form the Marijuana Law Section. MINORML is headed by Executive Director Matthew Abel of Detroit, himself a criminal defense attorney of renown.