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Weed Law Round Up: Is Your Future Going Up In Smoke?

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on April 17, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Forget Bird Law; Weed Law is one of the hottest legal fields right now. As more states turn slowly towards legalization -- 23 states and D.C. allow medical marijuana, while four have fully legalized it -- many lawyers are looking to specialize in this growing (no pun intended) market.

So, do you have a future representing Mary Jane?

It's no surprise that there's a lot of interesting legal developments around marijuana these days. The plant is, after all, still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, even if Congress has tried to tamp down their ability to enforce marijuana laws in states that have moved toward decriminalization.

This allows for a lot of exciting legal developments for the aspiring weed lawyer. Just this week, Arizona ruled that probation agreements can't require probationers to refrain from using medical weed, the Eighth Circuit found that trashed joints provide probable cause, and a federal court in California refused remove marijuana from its federal grouping alongside heroin and LSD.

If you're less interested in litigation, there's also plenty of interesting legal work behind the scenes. For example, finding commercial real estate for a marijuana business can require skillfully balancing state and local laws as well as knowing what sort of material disclosures must be made. The same is true for developing workplace policies around marijuana use.

There's Also a Ton of Money

There's a lot of money to be made in the legal marijuana industry -- and there's a lot of questions about what to do with it. Colorado made so much in taxes on its recreational reefer sales that it might have to refund them back to taxpayers.

For the rest of it -- the money made from legal sales not taken by taxes -- there's plenty of legal work, as well. Currently, there's no coherent regulation surrounding marijuana businesses and banking. Will Bank of America accept your client's deposit or report it to the Treasury Department? Having a lawyer involved will be necessary for industry participants wanting to stay on the right side of the law.

If you're looking to sample your clients' wares, though, be wary. Marijuana use, even if legal under state law, can still land lawyers in an ethical bind.

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