As state laws regarding medical and recreational marijuana evolve, lawyers face a variety of ethical issues relating both to counseling clients in marijuana related businesses (MRBs)and to financing or participating in MRBs.

The ethical dilemma stems from the fact that while state laws continue to expand the legality of marijuana, its use and possession in any form is still against federal law.  Most state ethical rules contain a rule similar to Rule 1.2(d) of the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Model Rules) which states:

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 a proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, meaning, or application of the law.

The dilemma created by Rule 1.2(d) is that it does not make a distinction between state and federal law. Continue Reading Lawyers Beware: Navigating the Legal Ethics of Counseling or Participating in the Marijuana Industry

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.

 

Some more good news for cannabis entrepreneurs in Maine and Nevada: The latest polls in both states show a majority of voters support adult-use legalization ballot initiatives.

 

When searching for America’s fastest-growing industries, chances are you’ll find marijuana near, or at, the top.

 

The statistics associated with Alzheimer’s disease are downright depressing.

The disease, which typically affects the elderly and is characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive function, currently afflicts 5.4 million Americans, and the Alzheimer’s Association expects the direct and indirect costs of treatment to reach $236 billion in 2016.

 

Anything we missed that everyone needs to know?  Give us a shout in the comments.

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.

 

Ohio’s Supreme Court affirmed that lawyers in the state will be allowed to serve medical cannabis business clients, much to the relief of hopeful cannabis entrepreneurs.

 

Until he was released from the Baltimore Ravens this year, Eugene Monroe was the NFL’s foremost advocate for allowing players to use medical marijuana. Now he’s a partner in a company suing Maryland regulators for rejecting its application to grow the drug.

 

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law new marijuana regulations that he says clarify Michigan’s 8-year-old voter-approved initiative that legalized the drug for medical use.

 

A proposal to allow medical marijuana in Missouri won’t go to voters this year because of an insufficient number of valid signatures, a judge has ruled.

 

Anything we missed that everyone needs to know?  Give us a shout in the comments.

Earlier this month a major US bank told the Alaska Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office that it can no longer accept credit card payments for licensing fees.  This followed on the heels of the closing of several business accounts of marijuana related businesses (MRBs) by Alaska banks and the closing of personal accounts maintained by people with ties to marijuana start up businesses.  No explanations for the closures were given either to the State of Alaska or to the account holders.  According to Marijuana Business Daily, the bank noted that “marijuana remains illegal under federal law.”  True, although marijuana was also illegal under federal law when the bank first allowed the Alaska Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office to accept credit card payments.

According to the Alaska Journal of Commerce, over 300 banks in the US now accept money from MRBs.  As we reported earlier, most banks act only as vaults for MRBs and provide depository services but no other traditional banking services such as lending, credit cards and wiring.  Part of the problem stems from the credit card companies strict ban on marijuana purchases and the Fed’s unwillingness to provide certain banks with master accounts.

Banking MRBs in the State of Washington may be an exception.  Rick Riccobono, Washington’s Director of Banks, was quoted in the Alaska Journal of Commerce as stating that “roughly 90% of all marijuana related taxes and fees pour into the state treasury electronically, not with cash.”   According to the Alaska Journal of Commerce, Washington uses two workarounds involving credit cards.  One workaround is through a company called PayQwik which is a system similar to PayPal.  A prepaid PayQwik account is linked to a credit card card or bank account and can be used to purchase marijuana and marijuana related products.  The credit card code for loading a prepaid card is one that the credit card companies will accept and is not a code related to marijuana purchases.  The second workaround involves customers using credit cards to purchase Bitcoin, the digital currency, and then using Bitcoin to purchase cannabis.  Interesting solution, but given how little most people know about Bitcoin, probably not good for the long term.

In the week that banks in Alaska were busy eliminating MRBs from their portfolio of customers, San Francisco Fed President John Williams gave a speech in Las Vegas in which he told his audience that as more states legalize marijuana, banks are facing “unsustainable tension” that needs to be resolved by Congress.  Good luck with that Mr. Williams.

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.

 

Ohio’s Supreme Court Wednesday proposed rewriting its ethics rules to allow lawyers to help medical marijuana companies, a change that would be welcomed by local attorneys and cannabis entrepreneurs, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

 

Moving to address complaints about the program, the state’s Health Department is making substantial changes aimed at easing access to the drug.

 

A voter initiative legalizing recreational marijuana will be on the November ballot after the Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a final legal challenge to the measure.

 

Something we missed that everyone needs to know?  Tell us in the comments.

 

On August 16, in the case of United States v. McIntosh[1], the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, reversed decisions from the District Court for the Northern District of California denying the appellants’ request for  relief against the Department of Justice (the “DOJ”) in connection with indictments brought against them for violation of the Controlled Substances Act.  The Court held that the appellants had standing to seek relief under a rider to the Consolidated Appropriations Act[2] prohibiting the DOJ from spending funds to prevent states’ implementation of their medical marijuana laws (“§ 542”). Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Limits DOJ Prosecution of Persons Complying with State Marijuana Laws

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.

 

The Justice Department can’t interfere with states’ medical pot laws.

Note: we’re preparing a blog post on this topic – keep watching this space!

 

The Ohio Supreme Court signaled Wednesday it might rewrite its ethics rules to permit lawyers in the state to help medical marijuana businesses, a move that would no doubt be welcomed by MMJ entrepreneurs and attorneys.

 

The state has awarded preliminary licenses to more than 20 companies to grow and process marijuana in Maryland, a major step forward in the effort to make medical cannabis available to patients in Maryland.

 

 

Anything we missed that everyone needs to know?  Tell us in the comments.

Welcome back to The Week in Weed, your Friday look at what’s happening in the world of legalized marijuana.

 

The Drug Enforcement Agency will announce Thursday that marijuana will remain a schedule 1 drug, which declares it has “no medical use or purpose,” according to a U.S. official familiar with the decision.  Note: see our post on this topic here: Are We There Yet? The Wait Between Legalization and Availability of Medical Marijuana.

 

One of the biggest financial institutions in the Tampa Bay area has extended a $100,000 line of credit to a company that hopes to capitalize on Florida’s upcoming medical marijuana industry.

 

Plot twist: Two grower applicants initially placed in the top 15 were bumped to spots 16 and 17, because the top 15 did not include the geographic representation noted in the law.

 

And if you think Mr. Trump and Secretary Clinton are your only two options in November, think again:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chief Wana Dubie’s dream of representing Missouri in the U.S. Senate has gone up in smoke.

Yesterday sparks flew as word was out that the DEA would be making some important announcements relating to the treatment of marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Today, the excitement died down as the DEA issued a 180-page denial (inclusive of attachments; the actual denial is only three pages long) of a petition to initiate rulemaking proceedings to reschedule marijuana, filed by a Mr. Bryan Krumm in December 2009.

Mr. Krumm’s petition requested that marijuana be removed from Schedule I of the CSA claiming that: 1) marijuana has accepted medical use in the U.S.; 2) studies have shown that smoked marijuana has proven safe and effective; 3) marijuana is safe for use under medical supervision; and 4) marijuana does not have the abuse potential for placement in Schedule I.

After gathering all necessary data, DEA involved the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which then conducted its own scientific and medical evaluation into Mr. Krumm’s assertions. HHS concluded that marijuana does have a potential for abuse, does not have an accepted medical use in this country, and does not have an acceptable level of safety for use even under the care of a medical professional.  For now, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the CSA, and therefore is still illegal under federal law.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) issued a decision that presents relevant considerations for those in the fast-growing marijuana industry.  In the decision (In re Morgan Brown), the TTAB affirmed the rejection of a service mark application to register the below HERBAL ACCESS & Design mark in connection with “retail store services featuring herbs” because the TTAB found that the mark was actually being used in connection with the sale of marijuana.

herbalaccess

Continue Reading Marijuana Trademark Registration Strategies – July 2016 Update