DOJ Memo on Medical Marijuana Says Prosecutions Possible

By Patricia Sallen, Director of Special Services and Ethics Deputy General Counsel
July 5, 2011

This memo does not alter the State Bar's recent Ethics Op. 11-01 concerning advising clients who request legal advice or assistance with respect to activities under Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act. As noted in Op. 11-01, the 2009 DOJ Memorandum had also previously emphasized that the "prosecution of commercial enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana for profit continues to be an enforcement priority of the DOJ."  Op. 11-01 cautioned Arizona lawyers that it did not address "whether the Act is or is not available to the client as a defense for a violation of federal law; or whether the lawyer's assistance to the client may expose the lawyer to prosecution under federal law."  The June 29, 2011 memo makes clear that attorneys in Arizona need to pay close attention to evolving pronouncements by the DOJ and potential enforcement actions in this area.

View memo here.

View Ethics Opinion 11-01 here.

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