Marijuana legalization leads to ethical dilemmas for bar associations and attorneys
A rare conflict between state and federal laws has caused bar associations in at least two states to become involved in trying to sort out the question of ethics vs. the law.
The legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington State has led to the kinds of legal questions that any industry faces, and for which a lawyer would normally be consulted. The problem, in this case, is that marijuana sale and use remains illegal under federal law.
"It is an ethics as well as legal issue, so long as the federal law is on the books," said Ken Goldsmith, ABA legislative counsel and director for state legislation.
Bars that give
"Bars that give" is an occasional look at bar associations that have developed programs to distribute items or services to those in need.
Shoes for students
The Women's Law Section of the Cameron County (TX) Bar Association has raised more than $5,000 to provide selected students in the county with vouchers for new shoes.
What complicates the issue further is that the Obama Administration has said unofficially that it will not prosecute attorneys who advise clients about marijuana-relates issues in states where it is legal, Goldsmith said.
The New York State Bar Association has called for enhanced efforts to fight human trafficking. The NYSBA House of Delegates approved a report calling on lawmakers, courts and advocacy groups to increase prosecutions of those involved with trafficking, and also to focus more attention on the victims.
Latch on to breaking news to become part of the story
Bar associations generally try to raise their public profile by having experts who comment on timely issues. Over the years, the pace at which such issues get discussed has quickened, so that the time from when an issue emerges to when it has generated a large public discussion can often be measured in hours, if not minutes.
Our colleagues at the Bar Association of San Francisco have been focusing on "newsjacking," and recently shared some of their experiences with the NABECOMM Listserv.
The blog post BASF used to newsjack a trending topic
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