Lawyers in AZ Get Word on Legal Pot Sales
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Lawyers in AZ Get Word on Legal Pot Sales
Posted by CN Staff on November 29, 2010 at 07:05:58 PT
By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Source: Arizona Daily Star
Phoenix, AZ -- Patients, doctors and dispensaries seeking legal help navigating the state's new medical-marijuana law could find themselves up the creek without a lawyer. The ethics counsel for the State Bar of Arizona says it's a violation of the rules laid out by the Arizona Supreme Court for attorneys to help clients break the law. Patricia Sallen acknowledged that the new medical-marijuana law permits those with a doctor's recommendation to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
And it also sets up procedures for the state to license nonprofit corporations to sell the drug.But she said it remains illegal under federal law to sell or possess marijuana.Sallen said that could keep attorneys from helping Arizona corporations set up dispensaries. And it also could mean no help in going to court for any company that believes it was unfairly or unlawfully denied a dispensary license - or even for an individual who wants legal assistance in obtaining a medical-marijuana card.Other states have dealt with the same issue already, Sallen said.She noted that the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar, that state's counterpart to her organization, issued a formal opinion earlier this year after Maine adopted its own medical-pot law.That opinion specifically says that attorneys, while allowed to provide advice on the law, aren't permitted to help their clients break it. The fact that the federal government isn't enforcing its own anti-drug laws against those complying with state medical marijuana statutes, the Maine opinion says, is irrelevant.And the ethical rules that regulate Maine attorneys are virtually identical to the ones by which Arizona lawyers must live.Sallen said a formal opinion for Arizona lawyers will be coming from her office on the issue, though she couldn't say when. She acknowledged, though, that an opinion warning attorneys to avoid these cases could leave Arizonans without legal help they need.Some of the first questions may come from those needing assistance to incorporate a firm to set up a marijuana dispensary.But the need for an attorney may become more acute as some of these companies are denied the limited number of state licenses to operate a dispensary.Under the terms of Proposition 203, the state can issue permits equal to 10 percent of the number of pharmacies in Arizona. State Health Director Will Humble said that comes out to 125 licenses.Humble said he's likely to award the licenses based on an examination of each applicant's qualifications. That, in turn, opens the door for appeals - and lawsuits - by anyone not on the final list."A lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct," Sallen said. "Otherwise, how could you find out what is legal and illegal to do?"But Sallen said the rules also make it clear that attorneys cannot counsel a client to "engage in conduct a lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent."Sallen said the formal opinion from Maine doesn't provide much guidance on what attorneys may and may not do. In fact, the Maine board specifically dodged the issue."Where the line is drawn between permitted and forbidden activities needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis," that formal opinion reads."We cannot determine which specific actions would run afoul of the ethical rules," it continues. "We can, however, state that participation in this endeavor by an attorney involves a significant degree of risk which needs to be carefully evaluated."Arizona Rules of Supreme Court 42(d)A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, but a lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good-faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law.Source: Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ)Author: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services Published: Monday, November 29, 2010Copyright: 2010 Arizona Daily StarContact: letters azstarnet.comWebsite: Medical Marijuana Archives
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Comment #3 posted by charmed quark on November 29, 2010 at 19:46:34 PT
Yes, it is a problem
Dispensaries need help with legal instruments to set up businesses, and they need access to bank for running their business. They have had trouble with both. But this bar ethics ruling is totally wrong. When the US Supreme court refused to hear San Diego's challenge to CA med. marijuana law ( SD county said they didn't have to follow state rules because the rules violated federal law), it meant that federal law does not overturn state law. So attorneys are not engaged in supporting illegal activity when they help med. marijuana businesses in those states where it is legal
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on November 29, 2010 at 11:02:48 PT
this is a problem?
sounds more like a blessing to me.You could pass the savings right on to the patients....I'd put a up sign that said "lawyer-free medicine 10% discount"
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Comment #1 posted by museman on November 29, 2010 at 07:56:28 PT
Well, lawyers may rewrite the english language on a daily basis with their club exclusive 'legaleze' but sooner or later truth and logic prevails over their inventions.The use of the word "ethics" here has nothing to do with the various rules and regulations of the Bar -even if the lawyers claim it. The practice of ethics implies a choice where a decision must be made. Rules give little choice,Another example of how obfuscation is the supreme talent of that particular ilk of corrupted humanity (and for those few 'lawyers' who still have any integrity left, I mourn for you) and how truth gets clouded with pure gobble-dee-goop.Apparently the choice of helping cannabis patients versus their own system of robbing them blind is an 'unethical' one. Not so if one considers the common meaning of the word. 
Though ethical practice, philosophy, and choices all have to supposedly do with right and wrong, the 'moral'correctness of actions and designs, apparently acting correctly in the original precedence of 'legal ethics which must acknowledge the preeminent existence of the Author of everything moral in western civilization; YHWH or 'God'is not included in their truncated lies and fabrications. The people in Arizona know what is ethical and what is not -the vote reveals it, guess its time they applied that knowledge to their 'public servants' and their 'representatives.'All western law is based on the Mosaic Law, and our 'morality' as well. What is not part of the practicing parameters is the capstone of all moral/ethical law, is the Commandment of Yashua; "Love your neighbor as you would love yourself." Missing completely from all all current practice of law is the ethics of Love, Mercy, Forgiveness, and Understanding.Nearly the entire concocted language of legaleze, is all about ordinance and rules, codes that are all about exacting money and property from the people, and nothing really about protecting them, except in their virtual form as 'the state.' 'The state vs humanity.'Apparently our academic institutions don't like to challenge their assertions, so I guess there is good business in rewriting textbooks and dictionaries to keep up with the changes.LEGALIZE FREEDOM
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