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Can Lawyers Smoke Weed?

lawyer smoking

Cannabis, for all the love it gets, is still treated as an offense in some parts of the country. If you find yourself in legal trouble, you might consider reaching out to a lawyer for help. And you might also find yourself wondering: can lawyers smoke weed? Prepare a fresh bowl, take a hit and read on to find out.

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Do Lawyers Smoke Weed?

Man in suit
Suit up (Source: Unsplash)

The simplest, bare-bones answer to the question of whether lawyers are allowed to smoke weed is: yes. But there are certain parameters within which this occurs. Despite these, however, toking lawyers isn’t particularly uncommon.

It isn’t illegal for a lawyer to partake in marijuana in legal states. But law firms and courts hold their officers to high standards. Therefore, they expect them to abide by existing guidelines and codes of conduct.

As such, it would be highly unethical for a lawyer to smoke up. Even more so while actively representing clients. Especially ones being tried for the very act of marijuana possession or use.

Nonetheless, there are certainly ethical ways a lawyer could hit a J without it interfering with their work.

Can Lawyers Smoke Weed in Legal States?

If smoking weed is illegal in a state, then this automatically includes lawyers as well. But in legal states, they get some leeway. That said, legality itself is rather murky. And this makes it hard to determine exactly what constitutes ethical toking for lawyers.

The most pressing issue is that even though it is legal in some states, recreational use is still illegal at the federal level. This calls into question the ethics of smoking up for anyone in the legal field.

Lawyers who smoke weed in Washington had these murky waters cleared up when the state bar’s ethics panel released a few pointers to guide ethical marijuana use for lawyers back in 2015. These include:

  • Their toking habit must not interfere with their ability “to provide competent legal advice and otherwise comply with” their ethical obligations
  • The recreational use of marijuana being within ethical bounds for lawyers may, at any point, be up for reconsideration if the Federal Government decides to shake things up

While this seems pretty clear on the surface, though, all it really says is – “light up at your own risk.”

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Can Lawyers Smoke Weed in California

The New York State bar also issued a similar decree not too long ago, with some additional pointers.

  • Lawyers are allowed to partake in marijuana for recreational purposes, accept stakes in cannabis businesses as payment, and even grow their own weed, all subject to state limits

And if that seems too good to be true, you’d be about half right. The state bar associations across the country regulate the legal system within their respective states. This includes licensing as well as disciplining lawyers.

Yet, what they do not have is direct regulatory authority over lawyers. That power rests with the state court itself. As such, while these directives are a great guide, they are not laws in and of themselves. And thus, they offer no protection to a lawyer pertaining to their toking.

The Ethical Dilemma of a Lawyer’s Toke

Woman smoking
Toking the day away (Source: Pexels)

The Colorado Bar Association added more clarity to the issue. They noted that a lawyer is allowed to smoke up so long as they aren’t high at work. Put more plainly, a lawyer can “ethically use marijuana on a Friday night and, if sober, return to work on Monday morning without committing an ethical violation.”

Legality, therefore, ensures that a lawyer can’t be pulled up for smoking up on their own time. Provided, of course, they are not bringing their buzz into work. The ethical dilemma nonetheless persists.

The reason owes largely to the notion of “morality.” Traditionally, a lawyer’s fitness to practice was judged based on their moral character. This itself was determined by a more social view of morality than one coded into the law. And since weed has historically been treated as immoral, people view a lawyer as partaking in immorality if they choose to toke.

Thankfully, legality and changing social perceptions have shifted over time. And the general population no longer views stoners and weed as “immoral.”

Lawyers Who Smoke Weed

Ashing a joint
Burning the midnight oil (Source: Pexels)

Another reason the legal system has such a grey area around marijuana use for lawyers is that, like with any other substance, excess use could hinder a lawyer’s ability to do their job. Ethics aside, a lawyer is tasked with protecting their clients as well as the general public.

There is often a lot at stake in any case that a lawyer handles. And any substance that impairs their ability to adequately carry out their duties is, naturally, not going to go down well with the overarching bodies setting the rules.

That said, weed, much like tobacco and alcohol, isn’t an uncommon habit for lawyers to pick up. And the simple reason for this is mental health.

Lawyers see some of the best and some of the worst in people on a regular basis. The stress of their role can weigh heavy on their minds. But beyond the emotional aspects of it, the role itself can be demanding and time-consuming, contributing to depression and anxiety among lawyers.

So, naturally, many of them turn to recreational substances to ease their daily woes. Yet, the dangers of excess loom above their heads. This is a major factor in the legal industry’s uncertainty in taking a liberal stance on lawyers being allowed to toke freely.

All Things in Moderation

If the waters still seem murky despite all the information available, it’s thanks to a happy cocktail of federal versus state laws, ethical considerations, and the perils of a vice gone too far.

The general public has largely accepted recreational toking as rather harmless, despite the lingering stigma around it. And most people wouldn’t be too bothered by the knowledge that lawyers light one up now and then. But for those to whom the question, “can lawyers smoke weed” pertains, the answer is: yes. So long as you don’t get caught by pulling up to work as high as a kite. And accidentally send your client to a non-functioning guillotine.