New Mexico Lawyers Warned About Medical Marijuana Clients

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The New Mexico State Bar Association is cautioning local attorneys about representing medical marijuana cultivators and dispensaries, warning they could be violating state rules of professional conduct.

An opinion issued last week by the association’s Ethics Advisory Committee isn’t binding. But it could make some lawyers think twice about representing marijuana-touching businesses, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. That, in turn, could hamper some MMJ businesses.

The bar association’s ethics committee took up the issue after one anonymous attorney asked whether lawyers who represent licensed marijuana businesses in the state would be in compliance with the state’s code of conduct.

The committee’s opinion said that negotiating contracts for the purchase of cannabis would be tantamount to helping a client break a federal law. But the committee also opined that helping a client set up an alternative medical business “that could possibly include the prescribing and distributing of medical cannabis would not be such assistance,” according to the New Mexican.

The decision comes just a few days after the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board or Professional Conduct issued a non-binding opinion saying lawyers who represent marijuana-touching businesses would be helping clients break federal laws and thereby would be violating the state’s code of professional attorney conduct.