The Nevada Bar has not disciplined any attorneys who are participating in the cannabis industry in the three years following legalization, the Nevada Independent reports. The welcomed news for attorneys participating in the space comes after the Bar warned in 2017 that those lawyers working with cannabis businesses could face discipline.
Daniel Hooge, bar counsel with the Nevada Bar, said that the Office of Bar Counsel has sent some attorneys through their professional substance abuse treatment program but “none used marijuana exclusively or worked in the industry.”
A Nevada Independent analysis of ownership state data found that there are at least 68 lawyers among the nearly 1,400 owners and board members who applied for or received adult-use cannabis licenses in the state – those figures do not include the attorneys who work with cannabusinesses but are not personally invested in the business.
In 2017, the state Supreme Court adopted language saying that participating in the industry “may result in federal prosecution and trigger discipline proceedings” under a section of Supreme Court rules addressing attorneys convicted of crimes.
Ed Bernstein, a Nevada lawyer who has an ownership stake in Paradise Wellness Center LLC., said the ruling was “a very subtle reminder” by the court that cannabis is not federally legal and that if there was a problem the court “may have to deal with it later.”
“The world is changing very quickly and I think the Supreme Court is on board with some of those changes.” – Bernstein, to the Independent
Since the proliferation of relaxed cannabis laws, several state Bar associations have released guidance prohibiting attorneys from working with cannabis businesses due to federal law while others have changed their rules to allow them to work in the space. To date, no attorneys have been punished for advising cannabis industry clients in states where it is legalized.