I have a lot of attorney friends, many of which specialize in working with marijuana businesses. I know that many of them worry about possible legal ramifications for working with marijuana businesses. Federal law considers marijuana illegal regardless of state laws, and attorneys are not supposed to help their clients participate in illegal activity. This puts marijuana business attorneys at risk, and there hasn’t been much case law providing protections for attorneys that work with marijuana businesses.
The Colorado Supreme Court approved a rule change today that eliminates the threat of possible ethics violations for attorneys that counsel marijuana businesses. That is good news not only for Colorado attorneys, but possibly attorneys nationwide that work with marijuana businesses that are legal at the state level. When a case occurs in other states, they will look towards Colorado’s ruling today for guidance, which is favorable for marijuana attorneys.
Below is the wording of the new rule allowing Colorado attorneys to work with marijuana businesses:
A lawyer may counsel a client regarding the validity, scope, and meaning of Colorado constitution article XVIII, secs. 14 & 16, and may assist a client in conduct that the lawyer reasonably believes is permitted by these constitutional provisions and statutes, regulations, orders, and other state or local provisions implementing them. In these circumstances, the lawyer shall also advise the client regarding related federal law and policy.
I’m curious to see what the effect is in Colorado. Will more attorneys start catering the the marijuana industry? What ripple effects will this have for other states? I guess only time will tell. But for today, this was very significant!