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Thanks to everyone who helped make this a successful event! 

Denver University Law Review presents

Marijuana at the Crossroads: A Symposium



Friday, January 27, 2012

University of Denver Sturm College of Law

CLE Credits: 7 credits (1.8 Ethics credits)


 Sponsored by the Constitutional Rights & Remedies Program at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.


Ethical Issues, Medical Marijuana & the Practice of Law Panel 

Randy Robinson[1]

Mr. John Gleason, Regulation Counsel for the State of Colorado, opened the panel with a discussion of the interplay between the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct and state medical marijuana laws. Mr. Gleason discussed Rule 1.2(d), which provides:

A lawyer shall not counsel a client to engage, or assist a client, in conduct that the lawyer knows is criminal or fraudulent, but a lawyer may discuss the legal consequences of any proposed course of conduct with a client and may counsel or assist a client to make a good faith effort to determine the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law.

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Medical Marijuana and the Constitution Panel

Nathan Downing[1]

In the Medical Marijuana and the Constitution panel, moderated by Associate Dean Alan Chen of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Professor Robert Mikos from Vanderbilt University spoke first. He looked at the federalism issues surrounding medical marijuana and how the political process can protect states’ rights, even when the Constitution fails to do so. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 made no exception for the medical use of marijuana and it is unlikely Congress will soon act to reschedule marijuana. Yet today, public opinions show about 70% of Americans favor the legalization of marijuana in some form. Are political safeguards a failure; is more judicial review necessary to give a voice to the will of the people? Not necessarily, certain political safeguards can protect state rights even in the face of opposite federal legislation.

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The State of Medical Marijuana Today

Betsy Proffitt[1]

Brian Vicente, founder of Vicente Sederberg, LLC, a law firm working intensively with the medical marijuana community, began the panel discussing the legal issues and solutions for medical marijuana patients and providers. Mr. Vicente explained that Colorado is one of sixteen states that allow medical marijuana, and eighteen additional states are considering passing laws this year. Although not all states will succeed in passing the laws, it demonstrates the trend occurring across the nation. Mr. Vicente compared the progress of medical marijuana to gay rights. “Our parents generation thirty years ago didn’t think gay marriage was possible and now several states allow it. Anyone under 35 thinks it isn’t a big deal.”

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Marijuana at the Crossroads: Issues Confronted in Practice  

Zoe Laird[1]

The day began with a heated discussion regarding the legality of marijuana in Colorado, created by the tension between the state amendment allowing medical marijuana and the federal prohibition on growing and distributing marijuana, a Class 1 drug. In addition to a fundamental introduction to medical marijuana, the panel explored issues attorneys confront in practice when working with marijuana growers and caregivers.

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