South Dakota Bar Warns Attorneys About Counseling Pot Sellers

January 8, 2021

The South Dakota State Bar Association is advising attorneys against providing legal services to businesses seeking to produce or sell marijuana in the state.

South Dakota voters approved legalizing both recreational and medical pot on the same ballot in November.

In the State Bar’s January newsletter, the group says there’s no doubt that manufacturing, distributing or dispensing or possessing marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

It notes that the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys in South Dakota states “a lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage or assist a client in conduct the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, but may discuss the legal consequences of that conduct.”

The association says a lawyer may not ethically provide legal services to assist a client in establishing licensing or otherwise operating a marijuana business, KOTA-TV reported.

The state bar’s website states lawyers who fail to abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct “may be disciplined and given penalties ranging from a private reprimand to permanent loss of the privilege to practice law.”

The legalization of marijuana in South Dakota is facing several challenges since voters approved Amendment A, which legalized recreational marijuana, and Initiated Measure 26, which legalized medical marijuana. Two state law enforcement officials have filed a lawsuit claiming Amendment A is unconstitutional.

Gov. Kristi Noem has spoken out against both measures, saying they’re “the wrong choice” for South Dakota.

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