Medical marijuana ethics advisory opinion for attorneys likely in the coming months

At the request of two Ohio attorneys, the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct will likely provide ethical guidance for attorneys about how the legalization of medical marijuana will impact the profession in the coming months. According to Court News Ohio, the Board is currently reviewing requests for an advisory opinion that addresses issues related to:

(1) the scope of services Ohio attorneys may provide to businesses that directly or indirectly engage in businesses related to the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana; (2) attorney ownership in related businesses; and (3) personal use of marijuana by an Ohio attorney.

Ohio passed a bill, signed by Governor Kasich on June 8, that allows the use of medical marijuana in certain circumstances and in specific ways. We provided a more in-depth look at HB523 when it passed the Ohio Senate in May. Because Ohio attorneys must abide by the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct, the new law raises questions about how medical marijuana may impact ethical issues in both personal and professional settings.

Court News Ohio reports that research is underway and the Board's advisory committee will likely make recommendations to the Board in August. Advisory opinions from the Board are non-binding, but do provide guidance for attorneys navigating their responsibilities under the Rules, especially when dealing with murky or novel issues. For more information about advisory opinions and access to all opinions issued by the Board from 1986-present, visit the Board's Advisory Opinions page.