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Lawyers may no longer lose license for advising on medical marijuana in Nevada

Reported by: Venise Toussaint
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Updated: 2/28/2014 1:24 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- Nevada attorneys may soon be free to advise their clients on the state’s medical marijuana law, even though federal law does not allow the sale of the drug for any purpose.

At the request of Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic, the Nevada State Bar is proposing an amendment to an ethical rule so attorneys may give their clients, including government bodies, legal advice on medical marijuana issues.

“We subscribe to a code of ethics as lawyers and violation of that code can lead to your disbarment,” Jerbic says. “Quite technically, this is still a felony under federal law.”

Nevada law bars lawyers from telling their clients to do anything illegal, and faced with the dilemma of losing his license or his job, Jerbic says he’d rather keep his license.

That’s why Jerbic pushed the state bar to change its rules to allow attorneys to counsel clients on the drug without the risk of being disbarred.

Jerbic submitted his request to the state bar in October. Just a few months later, he faced backlash from some City Council members for refusing to advise them on their proposed ordinance for the raising and sale of medical marijuana, as authorized by the state Legislature.

“He's a highly ethical lawyer and he proceeded in the right way,” says state bar President Alan Lefebvre, who received Jerbic’s request.

Lefebvre says at least seven other attorneys also voiced concerns, even though U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the federal government will not go after lawyers in states that allow medical marijuana.

“This really is kind of a standoff between the federal government or at least the law on the books versus what our state Legislature did,” Lefebvre says.

The state bar’s recommended rule change will now be considered by the state Supreme Court, which has final authority.

“It's a tremendous relief for me and I think for all lawyers in the state,” Jerbic says.



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