As we’ve stated time and time again, the cannabis industry is rampant with risks and scams, and can be an ethical minefield for attorneys to navigate. Legalized cannabis is a multi-billion dollar industry, however, and legitimate businesses need good and ethical attorneys to provide legal advice.
This is complicated, because due to federal laws, an attorney providing legal advice to a cannabis business in compliance with state and local laws could technically be aiding and abetting violations of the federal Controlled Substances Act.
Earlier this month, I gave a presentation to California attorneys regarding ethical representation of cannabis businesses and how to navigate the complicated tension between state and federal laws. I was joined by municipal lawyer Ruben Duran, partner with Best Best & Krieger, who advises public agencies.
This post will focus on the ongoing tension between state and federal laws, and the application of California’s new Rules of Professional Conduct. My next post will focus on attorney-client privilege concerns and real life ethical scenarios.