By Lorin Eleni Gill:

A group of 25 lawyers has submitted a letter to the Hawaii Supreme Court to reexamine a recent disciplinary board decision prohibiting lawyers to provide legal services to medical marijuana business hopefuls.By
A formal opinion released Tuesday by the disciplinary board of the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that lawyers may advise clients on Act 241, which establishes the state’s first retail dispensary system, but may not assist in business set-up, as it would be considered a crime under federal law, “albeit with a low enforcement priority.’”

Former Hawaii Attorney General David Louie, attorney at firm Kobayashi Sugita & Goda, told PBN the letter was delivered Tuesday.

“It’s important to ensure that qualified patients in Hawaii have safe and legal access to medical marijuana,” Louie told PBN. “We support that and believe that there should obviously be access to this with public safety and health preserved. So we are asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to take a look at the situation caused by the disciplinary board’s formal Opinion 49 and we hope they will act soon and act appropriately.”
Lawyers are requesting that the court add a comment to the opinion to clarify their ethical guidelines when assisting such groups.
Applicants are already gearing up teams to submit a competitive profile in January.
Local attorney Stephen Pingree, who signed the letter, called the disciplinary board’s opinion “troublesome.”
“This [decision] would foreclose any attorney, private or government, from advising clients who wish to establish and apply for a medical marijuana business license pursuant to Act 241,” he said, noting many have already ventured into consulting hopeful applicants.
Lorin Eleni Gill covers health care, nonprofits and the University of Hawaii for Pacific Business News.