AZ high court says no to letting lawyers help cannabis clients

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Arizona’s Supreme Court rejected a bid to repeal rules that threaten lawyers with disbarment if they help marijuana-related clients including businesses, a move that could have big implications if the state’s voters approve an initiative to legalize adult-use cannabis.

Arizona-based Capitol Media Services reported the high court dismissed without comment a petition to permit lawyers to help clients possess, buy or sell cannabis under the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana law.

The decision effectively affirms rules that bar lawyers from aiding clients “in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal,” Capitol Media Services reported. The possession, use and sale of marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

Arizona residents in November will vote on Proposition 205, an initiative to legalize adult-use cannabis. If approved, the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision could make it harder for attorneys to help marijuana entrepreneurs who want to establish and operate a recreational cannabis business.

A new poll shows that roughly half of Arizona voters are likely to support Proposition 205.

The Arizona Supreme Court’s decision comes a week after after Ohio’s Supreme Court proposed rewriting its ethics rules to allow lawyers to help medical marijuana companies under the state’s new MMJ program.