Submitted to Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board by Aaron Hall on May 15, 2014.
May our law firm’s business attorneys represent business owners and their companies opening medical marijuana businesses in compliance with state law despite these operations being in violation of federal law?
Rule 1.2(d) states “A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal . . . .”
On May 15th, 2014, Governor Mark Dayton struck a deal with lawmakers to sign Minnesota legislation that would set up eight medical marijuana distribution sites and allow qualified patients to access the drug in oil, pill and vapor form. See http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/259408771.html.
While such business operations will comply with state law, they will violate federal drug laws.
Prospective clients have contacted JUX to request representation in opening medical marijuana businesses as permitted by this new law. This would would entail forming business entities, entering into contracts, registering trademarks, assistance with state regulatory compliance, and other typical business matters. Would such representation be a violation of state ethics rules?