I know a handful of attorneys out there that specialize in marijuana business law. Some are in the recreational states of Colorado and Washington, while others are in states where only medical marijuana is legal, such as my home state of Oregon. In all states marijuana is illegal at the federal level, and therefore it puts these attorneys in a rough area. Lawyers aren't supposed to help their clients break the law, otherwise they leave themselves open to possible ethics complaints.
Marijuana business law is a booming area in the legal field due to the fact that the topic is so popular and so complicated. Anyone that wants to start a marijuana business should consult with an attorney, otherwise who knows what can happen. There's a lot of safe guards that need to be in place before the business launches, but a person would likely never know what those safe guards are if they can't meet with an attorney ahead of time.
Washington's Supreme Court Justices this week are taking up an emergency proposal to change Washington's ethics rules for attorneys to basically state that if attorneys comply with state law, they will be OK. Washington's proposed changes were drafted by the King County Bar Association. There are real consequences to keeping the current rules in place. Per Yahoo Finance:
The King County Bar Association says it has learned of ethical complaints against at least two lawyers for advising clients or using marijuana themselves since Washington's recreational pot law passed. Though Ende's office hasn't pursued the cases, "the effect on an attorney's personal life and professional reputation from being accused of misconduct can be substantial, disruptive and expensive," Daly wrote.
Will this become a more common occurrence as marijuana opponents cling to anything they can now that their firm grip on marijuana prohibition is slipping more and more everyday? I sure hope not. People should be able to seek legal counsel for starting a legal business in the state they are wanting to operate in. Don't you agree?