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Columbus, Ohio – Ohio attorneys were assured Tuesday by the state’s high court they could assist medical marijuana clients under the new law.

A non-binding advisory opinion issued in August suggested Ohio lawyers couldn’t advise medical marijuana businesses and patients under the state’s professional conduct standards because the substance remains illegal federally.

The Ohio Supreme Court on Tuesday amended the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct to clarify attorneys’ ethical responsibilities under the new law:

“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 advise the client regarding related federal law.”

The court accelerated the rule change because of the uncertainty around Ohio and federal law, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said.

Ohio’s medical marijuana law took effect Sept. 8, but it could take two years for dispensaries to open. The law allows patients with about 20 medical conditions to buy and use marijuana if recommended by their doctor.

“Ohio attorneys seeking guidance needed to know the do’s and don’ts as quickly as possible,” O’Connor said in a news release.

Westlake attorney Thomas Haren, who requested the initial advisory opinion, said he was satisfied with the rule change but would have liked to see the court allow more leeway in interpreting Ohio’s law, as Alaska did in its ethics standard. Ohio’s new law establishes a structure for the medical marijuana program but many of the details will be drafted in the coming months by three regulatory agencies.

“The only time that we may still have a gray area is on the margins where a client asks an attorney to determine whether something is permitted under the law and it’s not clear,” Haren said.

The August advisory opinion suggested attorneys could be disciplined for using medical marijuana or owning or working in a medical marijuana business. The new rule change does not address those two issues.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Ohio Attorneys Given Green Light To Advise Medical Marijuana Clients
Author: Jackie Borchardt
Contact: Cleveland.com
Photo Credit: Jackie Borchardt
Website: Cleveland.com