Ohio Supreme Court to address medical marijuana issue

The Ohio Supreme Court today directed its staff to prepare a draft amendment to the Ohio Rules of Professional Conduct that would clarify the services attorneys can offer clients seeking to comply with the state’s new medical marijuana law, according to a press release.

Last week’s non-binding advisory opinion from the independent Board of Professional Conduct sought to address ethical considerations with the bar’s participation in assisting clients seeking to establish a medical marijuana business or otherwise follow the new law.

The Board’s advisory opinion acknowledged the state’s new law, but also stated that prohibitions in federal law might create ethical problems for some lawyers, depending upon the nature of the services their clients are seeking.

“Although non-binding, the Court is aware that the advisory opinion has led some lawyers to question whether they can assist clients in complying with the new law,” Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said in a release. “The Court hopes to act expeditiously in addressing their concerns and, if necessary, amend ethics rules to clarify the role of attorneys in light of the new law.”

She noted that attorneys in other states have faced similar ethics challenges.

The Court will consider the proposed amendments to the Rules of Professional Conduct later this month and, if approved, publish the rules for public comment.

“Again, the Court intends to act as swiftly as possible,” O’Connor said in the release. “However, we do not want to rush the process to the point of creating additional problems.”

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