For Immediate Release
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Business Attorneys Ask the Minnesota Supreme Court to Change Ethics Rule that Prohibits Representing Marijuana Businesses
Attorneys Filed Petition with the Minnesota Supreme Court to Permit Advising Companies in State’s New Medical Marijuana Program Despite Violation of Federal Drug Laws
ST. PAUL – Attorneys at JUX Law Firm today announced they filed a petition with the Minnesota Supreme Court to amend a section of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct that prohibits attorneys from advising clients in the violation of federal drug laws.
“Entrepreneurs asked us to help them with businesses approved under Minnesota’s new medical marijuana law,” said Aaron Hall, an attorney at JUX, a business law firm in Minneapolis. “If we represent medical marijuana companies, we risk discipline under attorney ethics rules prohibiting helping those who violate federal drug laws.”
“When Minnesota approved growing and selling medical marijuana, a new industry was born in our state,” added Hall. “Like any industry, medical marijuana companies need attorneys to draft contracts and counsel on employment law, intellectual property, and legal compliance.”
Rule 1.2(d) of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct prohibits lawyers from aiding clients in an enterprise that violates federal drug laws: “A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal . . . .” Manufacturing and selling of medical marijuana is criminal under federal law.
“The new marijuana law attempts to carve out protections for attorneys, but the Minnesota Supreme Court has long held that only the Court, not the Legislature, has authority to set attorney ethics rules,” said Hall.
“We sought an Advisory Opinion from the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board,” explained Hall. “The Board refused to give us the green light, noting no state statute can trump the Supreme Court’s authority to decide when attorneys are disciplined for ethics violations.”
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