Pubdate: Sat, 13 Aug 2016
Source: Morning Journal (Lorain, OH)
Copyright: 2016 The Associated Press


COLUMBUS (AP) - An Ohio board that oversees attorney conduct said 
Thursday that attorneys aren't allowed to help someone establish a 
legal medical marijuana-related business in the state because using, 
growing and selling marijuana remains a federal crime.

The state Supreme Court's Board of Professional Conduct also said 
Ohio attorneys aren't legally permitted to use medical marijuana or 
to be personally involved in related businesses. Attorneys sought the 
opinion to determine whether a law barring employers from 
disciplining professionals from working with marijuana businesses 
applies to lawyers

The Ohio Legislature passed a bill in May that allows people with a 
doctor's prescription to inhale marijuana vapor to treat some chronic 
illnesses. Gov. John Kasich signed the bill into law, but it's 
expected to take months before medical marijuana is available to patients.

State Rep. Dan Ramos, a Democrat on the House committee that reviewed 
Ohio's medical marijuana law, called the advisory opinion 
"troublesome." He said lawmakers specifically wrote into the 
legislation that attorneys could practice in this area

Ramos, of Lorain, said elected representatives passed the law under 
their constitutional authority, the governor signed it using his 
powers and it's not up to the professional conduct board to weigh in. 
"That is deeply troublesome from a constitutional standpoint," Ramos said.

State Rep. Stephen Huffman, a physician and Tipp City Republican who 
sponsored the legislation, expressed disappointment as well.

"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," 
Huffman said in a statement provided by his office.

Ethics panels in most of the 24 other states that have legalized 
marijuana have allowed attorney involvement in the marijuana 
industry. However, Hawaii's disciplinary board issued an opinion last 
year that said attorneys could give legal advice about the state's 
medical marijuana law, but couldn't provide legal services to help 
establish a marijuana business. The panel said that would be 
considered assisting a federal crime.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom