Legal Ethics

Colorado lawyers may advise pot businesses, new ethics comment says


Colorado lawyers who advise marijuana businesses that operate under authority of a state constitutional amendment don’t have to worry that their conduct violates lawyer ethics rules.

A new comment (PDF) to the rules, adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court on Monday, says a lawyer may advise a client in conduct that the lawyer reasonably believes is permitted by the constitutional amendment and related statutes and regulations. The Denver Post, Reuters and the Denver Business Journal have stories.

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The comment says the lawyer should also advise the client about related federal law and policy.

The Colorado Bar Association’s Ethics Committee had warned in an ethics opinion that lawyers who advise marijuana businesses could violate ethics rules that prevent them from aiding clients’ illegal activities. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. The bar sought the rule change.

The court did not take action on a related request to add another comment to ethics rules that would allow Colorado lawyers to use marijuana.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “How to advise clients on legal-marijuana issues? Some bar associations mull ethics rule changes”

ABAJournal.com: “Can lawyers ethically smoke pot in states where it is legal? One bar group seeks ‘yes’ answer”

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