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San Francisco Bar: Lawyers Can Advise Pot Shops

July 29, 2015, 4:00 AM

A lawyer in California—one of the 24 U.S. jurisdictions that have legalized medical marijuana—may ethically advise a client on how to start and operate a medical marijuana dispensary “even though the attorney may thereby aid and abet violations of federal law,” the San Francisco bar’s ethics committee concluded in a June opinion (San Francisco Bar Ass’n Legal Ethics Comm., Op. 2014-1).

The committee said the fact that federal law makes it a crime to grow, sell or possess cannabis does not mean that attorneys who counsel marijuana dispensaries on activities permitted under state law necessarily violate California Rule ...