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To date, 23 states have recognized the medical use of marijuana, and four states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational manufacturing, distribution, and possession of marijuana. Given the conflict between federal and state marijuana laws, however, questions abound about whether lawyers may ethically advise and assist clients in complying with their state’s marijuana laws, or whether they would be running afoul of state and federal ethical rules governing lawyers’ conduct were they to do so.
While a handful of states have weighed in on the subject, the majority of state bar associations and ethics committees have remained silent on the issue. It is therefore imperative that lawyers in states with medical or recreational marijuana laws proceed with caution when contemplating advising or assisting a potential client on issues involving state medical or recreational marijuana laws.
This course surveys the conclusions reached by the various state bars that have considered this evolving issue, and will explore lawyers’ personal exposure under far-reaching federal civil and criminal laws such as conspiracy, asset seizure and forfeiture, and money laundering.
I. Recognize conflict between federal and state laws on the issue of legalization of medical and recreational marijuana
II. Understand the relevant federal criminal and civil statutes that may be implicated by assisting with marijuana-related businesses
III. Gain insight on federal enforcement priorities under the Controlled Substances Act
IV. Comprehend the ABA’s Model Rules 1.2 and 8.4
V. Survey the decisions of the various state bar associations and ethical committees that have considered the legal ethics of advising or assisting clients in complying with their state’s marijuana laws in the face of federal marijuana prohibition
Mr. Benno began his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney at the esteemed Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, where, under then-District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, he served in both the trial division and the appeals bureau. In the trial division, Mr. Benno investigated and prosecuted violent and white-collar crimes and tried several jury trials to verdict, all as primary chair. In the appeals bureau, Mr. Benno handled all aspects of criminal appeals, and regularly submitted arguments to the New York State Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest tribunal.
After several years as an Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Benno left government service to work for a premier civil litigation law firm where he tried civil cases and managed a caseload that focused on civil rights matters in state and federal court.
In 2009, Mr. Benno opened his own law practice, which focused on civil rights cases in state and federal court, criminal defense, and appellate litigation.
In addition to an active trial practice, Mr. Benno has briefed and argued criminal and civil appeals in the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Departments of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, the New York State Court of Appeals, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
In 2010, Mr. Benno argued People v. Mothersell in the New York State Court of Appeals, New York State’s highest tribunal. That case, which challenged the constitutionality of the City of Syracuse’s usage of “all persons present” search warrants, resulted in a unanimous reversal of the client’s criminal conviction and the dismissal of his indictment, and changed the landscape of criminal law practice in New York State. More recently, Mr. Benno was lead counsel in Bailey v. Pataki, a Section 1983 civil rights action against former New York State Governor George Pataki and several members of his administration for creating and implementing an unconstitutional civil commitment policy for a class of prisoners. Mr. Benno briefed and argued the interlocutory appeal in that case to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. He won that appeal, and thereafter tried the case in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. After a three and a half week trial, the jury found a top member of Gov. Pataki’s administration liable for violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.
From 2006 through 2012, Mr. Benno was an adjunct professor at New York Law School, where he taught Legal Reasoning and Writing and Written and Oral Advocacy.
Mr. Benno is admitted to the New York and Connecticut state bars, and is admitted to practice in the federal courts of the Southern, Eastern, Western, and Northern Districts of New York as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.
He serves on the Civil Rights and Liberties Committee of the New York County Lawyers Association, and is a member of the Civil Rights Section of the American Association of Justice. Mr. Benno is also a member of the National Police Accountability Project, the New York City Policing Roundtable, the First Amendment Lawyers Association, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers, and the Brooklyn Bar Association.
Mr. Benno also is a member of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the New York State Defenders Association. He is a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Legal Committee.
In 2012 and again in 2013, Mr. Benno was selected to the Super Lawyers Rising Stars list as one of the top up‐and‐coming attorneys in the metro-New York area in the areas of First Amendment and civil rights law. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state receive this honor.
In 2013 and 2014, Mr. Benno was also selected by the National Trial Lawyers for inclusion in the Top 100 trial attorneys in New York State in the area of criminal law. This is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers from each state in the nation who meet stringent qualifications. Selection is based on a thorough multi-phase process which includes peer nominations combined with third-party research. In 2014, Mr. Benno was also selected for inclusion in the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40.
Mr. Benno is rated 10.0, the highest rating given, by the online lawyer rating service Avvo.com.
Mr. Benno received his B.A. degree with honors from Johns Hopkins University, and his J.D. from Cornell Law School. While at Cornell Law School, Mr. Benno received recognition for his superior litigation abilities and was a member of the prestigious Moot Court Board.
Interesting comments on an emerging area.
very well done.
Very well done.
Very interesting course...especially re the dynamics between conflicting state and federal laws. I am sure this will be an area that continues to evolve.
Extremely interesting, excellent presentation on conflict of federal and state laws, including IL need of legal advice and counsel on medical marijuana.
This is an outstanding presentation, the best on the subject that I have seen or read.
This particular presenter was outstanding.
The presentation was engaging and very informative.
Extraordinarily informative . . . expertly presented
Very timely topic, much information!
Interesting speaker, fascinating topic.
Very helpful, thank you!
Very informative on a timely topic.
The instructor is *excellent*. I"ve now viewed several of his CLEs at Lawline and find him to be an outstanding communicator.
Thank you, Mr. Benno. Excellent presentation! Have a client interested in buying real estate and leasing to growers, this was highly informative!
Thank you for this superb course -- well-organized, thorough, and clear.
He was great, stayed off the silly marijuana references and gave some great info,
Very informative and helpful in understanding these ethical issues.
GREAT PROGRAM - VERY INFORMATIVE!
I thought it was well crafted because I am worried about Federal vs. State ethics.
Having just moved back to Colorado this course was very helpful.
Great Presentation. I enjoy listening to him.
I enjoyed the presentation.
Excellent presentation; very interesting and informative.
The presenter was VERY knowledgeable and made a difficult topic with a lot of nuance very understandable.
very similar to other lessons on this topic.
Helpful, brief overview of history of marijuana law as related to CSA. Thorough discussion of development of numerous state bar ethics opinions at least through early 2015
fascinating to listen to this topic and all of the complications involved. attorneys are truly in a difficult position
Very good program, and very interesting topic.
very interesting topic
Very timely and informative presentation on a developing and conflicted area of the law.
Very good program on issues that can only be resolved at the Federal level.
Very interesting and informative!
Good information and material
One of the best ethics courses available for credit in Tennessee.
very good course
The instructor was knowledgeable and clear.
Mr. Benno is very knowledgeable and is an engaging speaker.
What a great CLE topic. Federalism is really interesting, and this CLE module brings that to bear, along with the fascinating ethics discussion. Well done, Lawline.
Good program, yet such tortured logic to reach the desired outcome.
Very informative. Speaker had great speaking style and information
Excellent presentation. Clear, concise, excellent organization of issues and considerations.
This was a very informative ethics CLE and very practical for today's practice in certain states.
Interesting and informative presentation.
Speaker was very well informed and spoke very clearly. Very organized presentation. Covered all areas very thoroughly. Enjoyed it very much. Thank you.
Great - Informative review of a very difficult legal issue!
federal/state law conflict and supremacy clause issues were very interesting as were the consequent ethical situations. well addressed thank you
I thought this course was on-point and actually addressed a relevant ethics area.
one of the most informative and well-organized CLE's I've seen.
Excellent presentation on a topic with so many moving parts at Federal and State levels.
Very Good program and well organized.
interesting and topical
Good summary of substantive issues and ethical considerations.
Very informative and extremely topical.
Very good information regarding this emerging area of practice.
...very good overview of conflict in Fed v. State ethics...
I've never been interested in marijuana, this was foreign to me but thorough.
Engaging, informative lecture, very useful materials
Great overview of the issues, thanks.
it was interesting.
Great program to give a nuts and bolts overview of a challenging subject
Really excellent. The presentation was rich with detail and interwove the complicated history with modern dillemas and cautionary advice.
Great and convenient
Compared with other CLE courses I have taken this one was particularly clear, informative, and useful. Thank you
very interesting regarding conflict of laws
Interesting topic and well covered.
great update on IL ethic rules regarding counseling medical marijuana clients
Good speaker. Clear and easy to understand.
Excellent information and presentation.
Very good program! Impressive presentation.
Very interesting and useful.
I just enjoy issues that deal with conflicts between state and federal law. Fascinating stuff.
Very well done, especially given extent of topic.
Fascinating and educational class.
Very interesting presentation on a hot topic that comes up frequently.
Well done. The interplay between federal and state law was covered nicely for what one could possibly cover in an hour.
A very good seminar. I would recommend.
Great insight into this emerging area of the law.
Thank you for this detailed presentation.
excellent presentation by a very knowledgeable presenter.
very well done.
Excellent presenter and very substantive.
Speaker was interesting, well informed and gave a thorough treatment of the topic.
Very interesting (and timely) topic.
Timely, relevant and informative in our changing world
One of the best courses I have taken from Lawline.
I think a longer session on this would be great
Informative & relevant.. Well done Ameer!
One of the best I have seen. Great job by the speaker. Comprehensive and detailed
Another terrific instructor. Initially I feared he would not hit all the ethical issues but he did a wonderful job.
Very interesting CLE, brought up issues I hadn't thought of before.
SUPERB! Excellent presentation and materials. Well cited and an excellent job of covering a complex area.
an effective program!
All of the speakers are fantastic. This was a great program.
Very engaging, second seminar with him, like him a lot...thanks.
Excellent speaker, interesting topic.
Very nice overview of the topic.
This course is a MUST for anyone practicing in WASH or COLO. Excellent coverage.
Absolutely fascinating topic! Huge issues for attorneys to navigate. The issue is much less about MJ, and more about the conflict of state and federal laws and how that works out in an ethical manner for attorneys in those states.
The slides were well done and succinct.
Very good class
This was one of the most interesting and informative law line lectures I have watched.
Very interesting ethics topic - thanks.
This was a fascinating topic, extremely well-presented! Thank you!
thorough and informative
I greatly appreciate the use of both oral presentation and slide presentation together.
This was the best ethics CLE course I have attended to date.
Excellent. I live in WA and it was nice to get information on what other states are doing
Presenter was very effective and interesting.
Very informative, easy to follow presentation.
Great. Well presented and involves a very interesting topic.
Instructor was thorough and well-prepared
Timely and informative
Instructor very knowledgeable.
Excellent all the way around the horn!
Fascinating. Gave me an interesting perspective for looking at future changes and developments in the law.
informative on an interesting subject
Another great course taught by Ameer Benno.
Very interesting topic as it's such an evolving area of law.
Very nice presentation with good supporting materials.
Very comprehensive coverage of a subject that is in a state of conflict between existing Federal law and State regulation based on reasonable application.
Interesting presentation of an emerging area of law
Very well done.
Very timely and a great presentation.
Well organized and nicely presented.
Really well researched and presented. This guy is good.
Very good speaker & held my attention well!
Very good presentation. Interesting and practical.
Useful and informative.
very well presented
Excellent guide for a very complex area of the law
Highly recommend this program.
Very good. He Didn't base it just on the East coast. I appreciate that as very informative.
As NYS is one of the "newer" states to enact a "Medical Marijuana Law" designed for medical use and toward private dispensaries, this was a great beginning into the ethical examination of the subject. It is a new law, with growing relevancy, and if to ev
Excellent course. Well organized, very interesting content.
Very comprehensive coverage of the body of laws in this area.
Mr.Benno was a very interesting speaker. I suspect the ethical issues will become more complicated as legislatures address the unintended consequences of the legalization of marijuana.
Very well done discussion of the delicate legal balance.
Very topical for Illinois. Answered questions I had on the issues. Good use of an hour.
Wonderful program and engaging speaker. Thank you.
very informative on a timely topic.
Citations included in slides are very helpful, thanks!!
Very provocative and useful.
Fascinating way to get Ethics credits.
This was a very good presentation.
Benno does a great job of providing a very informative and thorough explanation of the complications arising from the divergence of state and federal laws and ability of lawyers to ethically advise clients with respect to those laws.
Interesting constitutional issues
super interesting, I would have never thought about a lot of this stuff.
Very interesting presentation of the conflicts b/n federal and state law.
Brought some clarity to a very unclear situation.
Fantastic. Perfect, timely, ethical dilemma
Good overview of issues.
Provides great clarity and breadth
Very good overview of state approaches.
Superb introduction to a very complicated, modern ethics issue.
An excellent and informative presentaation
Quite interesting. I don't practice in this area, but I was fascinated by the different approaches to the treatment of the ethical issues in various jurisdictions.
really interesting review of many states.
Clear and well organized.
interesting and relevant topic
Very informative seminar that explained the law in an interesting and entertaining fashion
We need more ethics webinars. This presenter is one of the best on Lawline.
Outstanding warning on the minefields that lay ahead.
Very well done.
Nice, thorough coverage of a complex topic. Interesting.
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