CA: Summary of the Bar Association of San Francisco Ethics Opinion 2015-1

The Ethics Committee of the Bar Association of San Francisco issued in June 2015 an Opinion stating that a California attorney "may ethically represent a California client in respect to lawfully forming and operating a medical marijuana dispensary and related matters permissible under state law, even though the attorney may thereby aid and abet violations of federal law."  But the attorney should "advise the client of potential liability under federal law and relevant adverse consequences and should be aware of the attorney’s own risks."

Moreover, the Opinion includes the Bar Association’s belief that (1) the State Bar Act or California Rules of Professional Conduct should not be used "to discipline lawyers whose clients seek advice on how to comply with state or local laws when the client's proposed conduct may violate the Controlled Substance Act" and (2) an attorney "may advise, assist, and represent the client in complying with state and local laws and ordinances while, at the same time, counseling against conduct that may invite prosecution for violation of federal laws."

Legal by the Bay, BASF's blog, has an article about the decision as well.


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