Here are the Top Cannabis Lawyers in All 50 U.S. States
Read the full article at WayofLeaf.com
Although marijuana is legal recreationally in nine states and D.C, and medicinally in another 21 states, it is still illegal in 20 other states and remains illegal on a federal level. As a result of this ‘green rush’ in legalization, the legal field has added a new specialty: The ‘marijuana attorney.’ Even so, larger law firms are proving resistant to the change with many refusing to provide services to prospective clients simply because weed remains a Schedule I drug as per the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
There appeared to be hope on the horizon thanks to the Cole Memo, which was issued in August 2013 by the Obama administration. It informed federal prosecutors that state-regulated cannabis should be the ‘lowest’ level of enforcement policy. However, it was only a ‘memo,’ and Jeff Sessions rescinded it in January 2018. Now that Sessions is no longer Attorney General, perhaps his successor can restore the Cole Memo; although we won’t hold our collective breath on that one.
In this article, we will provide you with the names of prominent and reliable marijuana attorneys in the following fields of practice:
- Medical Weed
First, let’s help you narrow your search.
What to Look for in a Marijuana Lawyer
Whisper it quietly, but the legal field is rife with shysters who are more interested in taking your cash than helping you beat the rap; think of an incompetent version of Saul Goodman. Marijuana law is constantly changing, and can only be fully understood by someone who has taken it on as an area of specialization. In other words, a typical law firm is unlikely to represent your best interests.
In an ideal world, you will find someone with knowledge of the inner workings of state and local governments, along with marijuana laws in your state. In the world of weed law, relationships with regulators are almost as important as knowledge of the regulations, so find someone with connections.
If you have a little knowledge of cannabis law, quiz the prospective attorney. If they are unable to build upon what you just said, steer clear. How on Earth can they defend you if they know only as much, or even less, than you do about marijuana law? Obviously,you need someone with a good base in criminal and/or business law.
Marijuana Possession Lawyers
As there are still 20 states where it is illegal to consume marijuana medicinally, getting caught in possession of weed is an offense that still carries a severe punishment. In Alabama for example, first-time personal use is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison. Possession in the Second Degree is classified as a Class C felony, which is punishable with up to 10 years in prison!
In Texas, possession of fewer than two ounces could land you in jail for 180 days. Texas law is very strict on concentrates; possession of under one gram is a felony if convicted with a punishment of up to two years in prison. In Arkansas, you are allowed a certain amount of weed with a Medical Marijuana (MMJ) Card, but if you are caught in possession of under four ounces, you could get up to a year in prison. Second-time offenders could spend up to six years in prison.
As a result, you need to find a reputable marijuana attorney who specializes in helping clients arrested on possession charges. Despite the seemingly unprofessional name, The Dude (real name Jamie Balagia) is a highly regarded marijuana lawyer in Texas. He has featured on a number of publications including High Times and Fox News channels in San Antonio and Austin. Other marijuana possession lawyer’s worth mentioning include Jeffrey Lichtman in New York, Fabriele Law in New Jersey, and Meltzer and Bell in Florida’s West Palm Beach area.
The stakes are much higher if you’re arrested on a cultivation charge. Not every state that has legalized marijuana allows you to grow it at home. In Louisiana for example, medical marijuana is legal, but the same can’t be said for cultivation in all cases. The state’s penalties for growing marijuana are the same as for selling. For example, a first-time offender could receive fines of up to $50,000 along with anywhere from 5 to 30 years in prison!
In Texas, cultivation is punished based on the aggregate weight of the plants found and is an offense where the sentence is along the lines of what you would receive for possession. Let’s say you grow five plants and they produce an average of 18 ounces each. Your total of 90 ounces is over the five-pound limit, where the penalty goes from two years in prison to 10 years!
In Louisiana, look for Dylan T. Heard of Mueller, Merritt & Heard, or Robert Stephen Toale. MJ Business Attorneys is another important weed law firm as it is licensed in 15 U.S. states at the time of writing.
Medicinal Marijuana Lawyers
This is unquestionably one of the trickiest specializations because of the ever-changing laws. In the 30 states plus D.C. where medicinal marijuana is legal, there are limits as to how much you can grow and possess. Most states also have a specific list of qualifying conditions. in Arkansas for example; 17 medical conditions could result in you legally acquiring an MMJ card including:
- Hepatitis C
- Crohn’s Disease
- Severe Arthritis
Unfortunately, there are countless cases where patients are wrongfully charged for offenses relating to medical marijuana, including possession, cultivation, consumption, driving under the influence, privacy issues, property rights, and civil forfeiture. If your medical marijuana rights are violated, you need to contact a law firm such as McAllister Garfield, P.C. who has offices in California and Colorado among other locations.
The issue of primary caregiver is also a complicated one. In Colorado, for example, Amendment 20 authorized caregivers to provide medical marijuana to patients with qualifying medical conditions. As caregivers are strictly regulated on a local and state level, they are often incorrectly targeted by law enforcement. If you are in this position, you need to contact a licensed marijuana attorney as they will provide you with a detailed consultation on all aspects of legal compliance.
Other medical marijuana attorneys to look out for include Price Benowitz LLP (operating in Washington D.C., Maryland, New York, and Virginia), and LaFountain & Wollman P.C. in Boston, Massachusetts.
Marijuana Lawyers for Sellers & Dispensaries
The stiffest penalties are reserved for those convicted of illegally selling or trafficking marijuana. In Texas, for example, sales of more than five pounds of weed will result in a prison sentence ranging from 2 to 20 years. Sale of more than 50 pounds could result in what is effectively a life sentence at 99 years; with a mandatory minimum prison sentence of five years.
Even in states where it is legal for licensed dispensaries to sell marijuana, these businesses face a complicated legal framework because they have to obtain licenses, set up proper business structures, and connect with local and state officials. Attorneys such as Ariel Clark of Clark Neubert LLP in California and Wing Parisi in Sacramento can help dispensaries navigate the complexities of marijuana law.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana Attorneys
Before we provide you with a list of marijuana lawyers in every state, we would like to highlight the importance of educating yourself in weed law. Whether you are consuming it recreationally or medicinally, or else you are growing it at home, it is important to learn more about your state laws before you get into trouble.
There is a variety of online courses worth considering if you wish to expand your knowledge. These include the Physiology of Cannabis at UC Davis, the Marijuana Law, Policy, and Reform Seminar at The Ohio State University, and Representing the Marijuana Client at The University of Denver. Without further ado, here are some marijuana attorneys to consider according to the state where you live.
List of Marijuana Lawyers by State
Adam Brian Tisdell
Read the full article at WayofLeaf.com