Saturday, November 9, 2013

Should Washington state lawyers be allowed to smoke pot

We all know that marijuana is legal in Washington State.  You can smoke marijuana, you can grow it, heck you will soon be able to by it at local stores.  However one issue that was never fully determined when the passage of I502 and subsequent legalization of marijuana happened was whether Washington State lawyers can use it.

You see State rules disallow local Washington State attorneys from committing a "criminal act," and despite the passage of I502, marijuana is still illegal federally.  Last week however, the King County Bar Association asked the Washington State Supreme Court to let Washington State attorneys use marijuana without punishment.  The KCBA proposal would add language clarifying that attorneys do not violate state ethics rules if their federal transgressions are specifically permitted under state law.

So what does this mean?  If you're a practicing Seattle Attorney for example technically you can't smoke Marijuana like the rest of Washington state residents.  If you do then you would be committing a "criminal act" and you risk losing your license to practice law.  As a practicing DUI lawyer in Seattle it should be interesting to see how the WSBA goes and whether they change this ethical provision.

Now on a related but unrelated note, I have been seeing more and more marijuana or green DUI's come through my office.  Just because marijuana is legal does not mean you can go out and drive if you're still under the influence of it.  Unlike alcohol, marijuana stays in your system longer.  And even though you may not feel the effects of it, if you're a regular user than you might constantly be at the legal limit of 5 nanograms (which is not very much).  

If you're a regular follower of this blog then you know I was not in favor of the passage of this bill.  Not because I have any problem with the actual legalization, but what we were giving up in exchange for that.  In my opinion as a DUI lawyer in Seattle this legal limit is probably equivalent to a very small amount of alcohol.  But those that were hell bent on this passage never considered this, and now people that need this drug for medicinal purposes are constantly driving "over the legal limit."  

About the author: Matthew Leyba is one of Seattle's best DUI trial attorneys in Western, WA.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other related offenses.   

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