It seems that states are legalizing various levels of usage of marijuana left and right. 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. Thus, it is 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.
Join attorney Ameer Benno for an update to his extremely popular course discussing the ethical landscape for lawyers working with clients on marijuana-related issues. Here, he discusses conclusions reached by the various state bars that have considered this evolving issue. Additionally, he explores lawyers’ personal exposure under far-reaching federal civil and criminal laws such as conspiracy, asset seizure and forfeiture, and even money laundering.
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.
Good explanation of federal vs state conflicts and survey of several states' treatment of the ethics / legalities of legal representation under the governments' impaired notion of protecting the public.
Benno is just great / 2nd course with him this cycle. But so much for my plans to establish a nationwide marijuana legal services law practice. Yikes! What a snake pit.
One of the best courses I’ve taken on Lawline!
Addressed additional ethical issues surrounding Medical Marijuana programs particularly helpful for healthcare representation.
Excellant Overview. Sufficient detail. Presenter works hard.
very interesting; great speaker
One of the best Lawline videos surveying a legal subject.
Comprehensive, substantive and interesting.one of the best ethics credit courses I've seen in several years.
Outstanding coverage of federal and state issues, and extremely well presented!
Great course. Easy to follow and well structured.
The best thing about this seminar is the accent on the pitfalls of performing legal work with clients involved in the marijuana industry and the continuing conflicts between state and federal law.
Good presentation in a difficult area.
course material was very comprehensive
Very informative and relevant to my practice. I appreciated the focus on state-by-state ethical rule(s) applicability.
up to date for an emerging area of law
That was an AMAZING presentation! Very thorough. Well presented. Thank you!
Detailed, actionable information presented in a clear and engaging format
Effective overview of evolving area
Didn't think this one would be interesting, it turned out to be a fascinating area due to the conflict between state and federal law. Very well delivered, great presentation. Please have the same presenter update it with recent developments when able.
This course module offered an excellent explanation of the tension between federal and state law.
Oh my! If this conundrum between federal and state(s) law doesn’t make you lose sleep at night, nothing will. This is an excellent CLE—far more interesting than I expected and far more useful.
Tough subject with no clear cut answers. Well presented.
Interesting insight on a cutting edge topic
Nice speaker. Very prepared.
Very interesting and informative. And, although it was to the point and full of facts, the lecture was never boring or slow paced.
Most interesting ethics program ever.
well done on a very difficult subject
Great course! Lots of very useful content.
Excellent presentation. One of the best I've watched on Lawline.
Great CLE that fully covered the detailed world of stat marijuana laws. The materials were clear and helpful too.
Very informative. The speaker was excellent.
Mr Benno was well versed in the subject and presented the material in a clear and well organized manner.
Really good presentation!
Great Great Great
very detailed presentation - well -researched - great job!
Really great survey of a complex area of the law. I had no idea that this was so complicated. I have to say that it is hard to believe that there has been nothing done to fix this mess.
Knowledgeable instructor, very punchy upbeat delivery. Very good.
Very good speaker and content
Excellent course for an overview of national trends regarding the ethics rules related to state-authorized marijuana laws
This speaker presented an in depth and comprehensive state of the law in this ever changing and challenging area. It would be helpful to have further updates on this topic.
very interesting and timely course. Presumably will need at least updating annually with new developments
Very helpful as trying to better understand this evolving legal topic.
I would like more programs from this presenter. Mr Benno is very good.
Great lecturer. Interesting topic. Would like to see more content from this lecturer again.
Very interesting topic
This was a n interesting course which highlighted the inconsistency in state and federal law on the subject.
this lawyer knows his subject!
i like the dashboard look of the set up.
A very good job handling knotty issues that frankly do not seem to have any clear resolution. Very good materials. This course will have to be updated again now that Federal policy re enforcement has just changed 180 degrees. Several states seem to reference the prior favorable Federal enforcement policy in formulating their ethical rules. Now what happens after the Federal enforcement policy is reversed?
Very good presentation.
Mr. Benno is an excellent presenter. His style and presentation are among the best I have seen.
Good presentation on a very new area of the law!
Not only informative but thought provoking.
This was the best CLE I've ever seen
Interesting current topic.
Very good presentation. Thank you.
just plain excellant
Well done. Thanks
the material was very informative.
enjoyed the speaker
Interesting content, an informative way to get ethics credits on an unusual topic!
Well Presented. Good Speaker
This was quite well done.
Best instructor ever.
Important information that is very well presented. Mr. Benno is an excellent speaker. I would take another CLE where he is the instructor.
Plain English, loved it.
Mr. Benno did a remarkable presentation on a very difficult topic. Great JOB. Thank you.
A tremendous amount of information,
This was a very good overview of ethical as well as legal issues for those of us who have not been involved in the Cannibus move.
The speaker was outstanding given the current fluid state of laws relating to marijuana laws and the conflicts between state and federal law.
Most timely, and the best presentation I've seen in years.
Great overview and history lesson.
Fast moving, detailed and clear. A very good presenter.
Very good speaker; clear and concise information.
excellent on tension between state and federal with a lot of state content
Very interesting. Well organized.
engaging speaking style
Great speaker in very murky area of the law.
I thought this was very interesting. Good topic.
Very interesting course. Thanks!
I have been giving presentations on legalized marijuana around the state of Wisconsin. I have not considered the ethical issues in this area. Therefore, this presentation was extremely helpful in recognizing these issues.
Tough area of conflicts, he did as well as anyone i know to explain current status.
Exceptionally thorough comparative analysis. This is not an area of law that I practice; I was simply interested in the topic. I felt like I was back in law school during this course, with an efficient overview of federal law, state law, and professional ethics, as they all pertain to CSA. Professor is engaging, to boot, with his use of hypotheticals.
Absolutely EXCELLENT Presentation and written materials. Speaker was engaging, knew his material with only few references to materials. Without doubt one of the top 3 Lawline Courses I've taken over the last several years. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
Very comprehensive coverage of the topic. Well done.
Scope of coverage by the states is somewhat surprising...interesting
Presenter was very well versed in the subject matter.
Wow! Great job. This Ameer Benno was super-prepared for the entire 90 minutes. I would love to attend other CLE presentations on other topics delivered by him.
Excellent speaker and course
Outstanding presentation - I would highly recommend this topic and this presenter.
Excellent presentation and content for a complex and evolving area of law.
Nice over view
Excellent. I wish all of your authors did such a good job with the supplementary materials. I am going to go out of my way to give him an online google review.
Very informative and well presented. Excellent lecture!
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