Lawyers, Marijuana, and Ethics

7 Pages Posted: 26 Dec 2017

See all articles by Peter A. Joy

Peter A. Joy

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Kevin C. McMunigal

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Date Written: March 20, 2017


As state marijuana lawyers have dramatically changed in recent years, more and more lawyers have asked state ethics authorities for guidance about how these changes in the legal landscape impact the ethical obligations of and limitations on lawyers. May lawyers in a state that has decriminalized marijuana, for example, advise and assist clients engaged in marijuana-related businesses such as growing, distribution, or selling marijuana in conformity with state law? Some state supreme courts have amended their ethics rules specifically to answer such questions. In other states, ethics authorities such as the state bar have issued opinions addressing them. In still other states, ethics authorities have yet to provide any guidance at all. We review the guidance state ethics authorities have offered so far to their lawyers about how to practice ethically under the new marijuana regimes found now in more than half of the American states.

Keywords: legal ethics, professional responsibility, marijuana, advice

JEL Classification: K14, K19, K41, K42, K39

Suggested Citation

Joy, Peter A. and McMunigal, Kevin C., Lawyers, Marijuana, and Ethics (March 20, 2017). 32 Crim. Just. 29 (Spring 2017), Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 17-12-01, Available at SSRN:

Peter A. Joy (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
313-935-6445 (Phone)

Kevin C. McMunigal

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
2163683613 (Phone)
2163682086 (Fax)

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