UPDATE, again: Ohio Supreme Court to amend professional conduct rules re: medical marijuana

UPDATE, again: The Ohio Supreme Court has adopted the proposed language, below, as an amendment to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. This modifies Rule 1.2(d)(2). It became effective Sept. 20.

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UPDATE: The Ohio Supreme Court has proposed language amending Rule 1.2(d) of the Rules of Professional Conduct to address a lawyer's ethical duties under the new medical marijuana law.  The proposed amendment reads:

“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.”

The court will accept public comment on the rule through September 18. For more information about the rule and how to comment, see this article from Court News Ohio.

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Last week's non-binding advisory opinion from the Ohio Board of Professional Conduct generated some confusion, as described in this Cleveland.com article, about what lawyers can do with respect to medical marijuana once the laws legalizing it go into effect this September. The advisory opinion states that lawyers “cannot provide legal services necessary for a client to establish and operate a medical marijuana enterprise or to transact business with a person or entity engaged in a medical marijuana enterprise,” because a marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, and a lawyer cannot advise a client to break the law.

According to Court News Ohio, the Ohio Supreme Court acknowledged that this non-binding opinion will create questions, and said today that it will prepare an amendment to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct. The proposed amendments will address what attorneys can and cannot do surrounding the marijuana laws in order to give greater clarity on this issue. Once approved by the Court, they will be published for public comment.