Ohio Marijuana Law and the Legal Profession

Partner, Nicholas Froning was asked to present to the University of Akron School of Law Student Organizations; Health Law and Cannabis Law Society’s membership regarding Ohio Marijuana laws and the legal profession.

From left to right, Nicholas Froning, Esq., (Koblentz, Penvose & Froning, LLC), Karen D. Adinolfi, Esq. (Roetzel & Andress), and David Patton, Esq. (The Patton Law Firm)

The Brennan Courtroom was full of students interested in hearing the opinions of Nicholas Froning (Ethics and Professional Responsibility Counsel), Karen Adinolfi (Employment Lawyer), and David Patton (Cannabis Lawyer).

At the outset, it is important to understand that the Ohio Supreme Court

At issue in discussing Ohio Marijuana Laws and the Practice of law, is whether it is ethical for a lawyer to engage in medical v. recreational usage of marijuana. In Ohio, we have guidance through the Board of Professional Conducts Advisory Opinion 2016-06 which addresses a lawyers use of medical marijuana.

The Board stated that under current federal law, an Ohio lawyer’s use of medical marijuana—even with a prescription—constitutes an “illegal act” implicating Prof. Cond. R. 8.4(b) and Prof. Cond. R. 8.4(h), but the Board recognized that not every “illegal act” reflects adversely on a lawyer’s honesty and trustworthiness or ability to practice law.

Another potential issue is the public’s perception of marijuana usage by those in the legal field, which may, affect the perception of the legal system and administration of justice. As a lawyer, you are a lawyer 24/7. This is evident through the limitation of a lawyer’s 1st Amendment rights in the State of Ohio (but seems as though the tide is changing. As seen in advisory opinion 2016-06, medical marijuana usage would likely be viewed differently, by the public, then recreational usage. Only time will tell on the public perception in Ohio.

As discussed above – The Ohio Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over the practice of law in Ohio. We may or may not see a decision about a lawyer’s usage of recreational (or medical) marijuana in the future (likely through an ineffective assistance of counsel claim).

It was a great group of students and panel members. Thank you for the opportunity.