The Situation

The Supreme Court of Hawai‘i  is seeking public comment regarding a proposal to amend Rule 1.2(d) of the Hawai‘i  Rules of Professional Conduct. The proposal clarifies the extent to which attorneys may assist clients with regard to conduct expressly permitted by Hawai‘i law, but which may be in conflict with the laws of other jurisdictions. Under the Office of Disciplinary Board’s Formal Opinion #49 released last month, Hawai‘i lawyers are not currently allowed to help dispensary applicants or industry related businesses with the establishment of  their business, the license application process, or with any of the following situations:

  • A financial institution may refuse to grant a loan or line of credit to fund a client’s business that is related to marijuana.
  • A client may need assistance negotiating a lease, particularly if a prospective landlord wants to prohibit use of real property for illegal activities and fears seizure by federal authorities
  • If the client will conduct a cash-only business, then she may need representation in negotiating arrangements to lower the risks associated with handling large amounts of cash.
  • The marijuana enterprise may need legal advice and representation to obtain a use permit or zoning variance.
  • The client will also need tax advice.  Unlike other business ventures, marijuana sellers may not deduct expenses such as employee salaries, rent, mortgage payments, legal fees, state taxes, or equipment depreciation.[1]

As a member of the Hawai‘i Dispensary Alliance, or an interested member of the public, we ask that you, your organization, and all of your contacts send the following message to the Supreme Court of Hawai‘i.  We want to see the rule change so that Hawai‘i can build a legitimate medicinal cannabis industry from the start.  Check out the Alliance’s full public comment here.

The deadline is October 16, 2015. Act Today!

What Can You Do?

Just copy and paste the following text into an email, fill out your name, and hit send to: 


I, ______________, am writing in support of the Supreme Court of Hawai‘i’s proposal to amend Rule 1.2(d) of the Hawai‘i Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Supreme Court should adopt and finalize the proposed change amending Rule 1.2(d) of the Hawai‘i Rules of Professional Conduct as it is the only option supported by Act 241 and consistent with the majority of states with medical marijuana laws.  The Hawai‘i Supreme Court should take this action to fulfill the Hawai‘i Legislature’s promise of “safe and legal access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients” by providing the industry with the legal services it needs in order to effectively establish itself, meet the  Department of Health’s application requirements, and comply with state and federal regulations.

Best Regards,





[1] Ethics Opinion 2015-1, The Bar Association of San Francisco (2015) available at

Comment Now! on the Role of Lawyers in Hawai‘i’s Medical Marijuana Industry