Joffre Essley

Ohio Professional Board: Attorneys Not Allowed to Help Establish MMJ Businesses

The Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct has barred attorneys from helping individuals seeking to establish legal medical marijuana businesses in the state and from participating as patients in the medical marijuana program, the Associated Press reports.

The board made the decisions because using, cultivating, and selling cannabis is still a federal crime.

Democratic State Rep. Dan Ramos, who worked on the House committee that reviewed the law, said that legislators specifically included language in the bill that allowed attorneys to practice in the sector. He called the ruling “deeply troublesome from a constitutional standpoint.”

State Rep. Stephen Huffman, a Republican who sponsored the measure, said the ruling will “hamper the ability for the law to be implemented in the spirit of what the General Assembly was trying to accomplish.”

Hawaii is the only other state with a medical marijuana program that does not allow attorneys to help establish cannabis-related businesses. Last year, the Hawaii Supreme Court Disciplinary Board ruled that lawyers can provide legal advice regarding the law, but cannot help establish such businesses for the same reasons provided in the Ohio ruling.    

Ohio passed the medical marijuana legislation in May. The program is expected to be rolled out in Sept. 2018.

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