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S.D. bar says attorneys cannot represent marijuana businesses

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 5:26 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The conversation about legal marijuana in the Mount Rushmore State continues, after the South Dakota State Bar Association said in their January 2021 newsletter that attorneys should not represent businesses looking to produce or sell marijuana in the state.

They said the main issue is that marijuana is illegal at the federal level, and attorneys cannot help someone commit an illegal act.

While it is not necessary to use a lawyer to set up a business, Timothy Rensch, a Rapid City defense attorney, said attorneys can make the process easier. He said he is not surprised about this mandate from the bar, citing recent actions in other states with legal marijuana.

“To me, it’s not really surprising,” said Rensch. “I believe it has happened in other states. Other states choose to ignore the federal laws and the feds won’t prosecute, so they’re able to do that kind of business. But there are all kinds of problems presented in business because of that.”

We reached out to members of the South Dakota Bar Ethics committee for comment, as well as a supporter of marijuana legislation, but both declined to answer questions at this time. But, one ethics committee member did say there will likely be more opinions to come on this matter.

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