UPDATE: Although the RPC proposal mentioned below is still under consideration by the Washington State Supreme Court, the KCBA Board of Trustees has adopted an ethics advisory opinion to assist the bar in the interim as attorneys consider practice issues under the existing RPCs. The full text of the KCBA Ethics Advisory Opinion on I-502 & Rules of Professional Conduct can be found here.
An interesting question that has arisen in the wake of the passage of Initiative 502 (I-502) — Washington’s marijuana legalization measure — is whether attorneys run the risk of disciplinary action under the state’s Rules of Professional Conduct (RPCs) for advising clients on their marijuana business or for personally participating in the recreational use of marijuana.
Under Initiative 502, both activities are technically legal under state law, however, they remain illegal under federal law, creating a catch-22 situation. When trying to solve this dilemma, the RPCs unfortunately offer no guidance, and there are no ethics advisory opinions that address the issue.
Due to this lack of guidance, Washington lawyers have been left to wonder what the potential consequences might be. Indeed, earlier this month, King County Bar Association (KCBA) President Anne Daly asked in an article on the subject, “where does this leave…the more than 14,000 lawyers in King County who could easily find themselves in [this] predicament?”Continue Reading Ethical Challenges for Lawyers in the Face of State Marijuana Legalization