An Ohio board which governs attorney conduct, officially titled the Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct, decided last week that Ohio attorneys are not allowed to work with state-legal medical cannabis businesses.
Going one step further, the board also decided that Ohio attorneys are not allowed to use medical cannabis, and also be personally involved in medical cannabis businesses. These lawyers seem to be acting a lot more like doctors!
There was a glimmer of hope for the group, as there is a provision in the law which legalized medical cannabis that barred employers from disciplining professionals from working with medical cannabis businesses.
Unfortunately, the board ruled that the law did not apply to the state’s lawyers. The board used the fact that cannabis, even when state-legal, is still Federally illegal as the cornerstone of their decision.
Similar ethics boards in other states, with the exception of Hawaii, have chosen to allow their state’s attorneys to work with medical cannabis businesses.
Ohio legislators were not pleased with the Ohio board’s decision and were not silent on the topic. State Rep. Dan Ramos called the board’s ruling “troublesome”, and noted that “lawmakers specifically wrote into the legislation that attorneys could practice in this area.”
Clearly, there is something lost in translation between the professional conduct board and the state’s legislators. Ramos noted that the state’s legislators enacted a law through the state’s official legislative avenue, and the professional conduct board has no say in the matter.
According to Ramos, the fact that they did so was “deeply troublesome from a constitutional standpoint.” Ramos was joined by others in the house who also felt the ethics board spoke out of turn.
State Rep. Stephen Huffman was also saddened by the board saying, “it’s going to hamper the ability for the law to be implemented in the spirit of what the General Assembly was trying to accomplish.”
Lawyers are typically their client’s compass in rough unfamiliar waters, as they can read the meaning in the stars, and advise their clients on which direction is both safe and best to navigate.
Ohio’s ethics board is seemingly blind to this idea, and instead are letting this fledgling industry navigate into especially rough waters completely blind.
Do you think this was the right decision by Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct? Tell us what you think in the comments below or on Facebook!