Marijuana Lawyers May Run Afoul of the Law

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When it comes to practicing pot law, lawyers are still navigating a gray area. 

Recreational marijuana is set to become legal in the state of California next month, but for lawyers, even counseling clients could land them in federal trouble for conspiracy, money laundering or even aiding and abetting drug dealers. 

One attorney in San Diego is already facing felony pot charges because the District Attorney says she helped one of her clients hide evidence of pot manufacturing. Jessica McElfresh, is facing multiple felony charges at a time of increased uncertainty over how law enforcement will treat the nascent pot industry. 

Former DA Bonnie Dumanis filed charges against one of McElfresh's clients, saying that James Slatic, a medical marijuana entrepreneur and his business partners sought to manufacture and sell hash oil across the country. Dumanis also filed charges against McElfresh, saying that the lawyer was also in on the scheme. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated his opposition to legal weed last week, but has not said if he will reverse a longstanding Justice Department policy to not interfere with marijuana businesses complying with state laws and instead concentrate prosecutions on trafficking, sales to minors, cartels and gangs in the business.

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