Alaska Lawyers Group Exploring Marijuana Issues

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Alaska lawyers should be able to advise marijuana companies on legal issues and consume cannabis privately but probably shouldn’t invest in MJ businesses, at least for now.

This is the advice the Alaska Bar Association’s ethics committee released after analyzing issues tied to the state’s new recreational marijuana law.

The guidance is a preliminary step – not an official ruling by the association or a formal opinion – to provide attorneys with an idea of the “direction the wind is going to blow,” an official with the association told the Alaska Dispatch News.

The organization’s board of governors will discuss marijuana-related issues at its next meeting in January and possibly propose changes to the Alaska Rules of Professional Conduct, which cover ethics rules for attorneys. Any changes to the rules must be adopted by the Alaska Supreme Court.

The ethics committee said it thinks lawyers should be able to use cannabis privately, as long as it doesn’t affect their ability to practice law. They also should be able to advise their clients on current state law regarding marijuana, as long as they note that it’s still federally illegal.

But the committee thinks lawyers shouldn’t invest in cannabis companies because it’s still a bit of an ethical gray area, the ADN reported.

Alaska voters last month approved an initiative legalizing recreational marijuana, but since cannabis is still federally illegal, it’s difficult for some lawyers to know how to proceed.