Marijuana

Marijuana: Judge rejects argument pot contracts can't be enforced -- and attorney's okay with it

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The section in question reads:
Defendants recognize this is a somewhat unsettled area of the law, and that various attorneys and courts have taken a variety of positions about the legality of medical marijuana in light of federal law. However, pursuant to the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct, licensed practicing attorneys are ethically required to raise and advance arguments on behalf of clients that could potentially benefit the lawyer's clients, notwithstanding the lawyers' personal interest or political views.
Just as surprising is the next paragraph, in which Corry writes that he's "ethically obligated to advise the Court of contrary authority as to the above federal illegality argument" -- meaning reasons to reject the very assertions he's putting forward.

Apparently, Denver District Judge Herbert L. Stein was impressed by the latter. In his dismissal of Corry's previous motion, dated November 21, Stein writes, "The Court finds Defendants' arguments on the unenforcabeability of said contract (and related claims) due to federal preemption to be unpersuasive at this stage. Colorado law will be applied in this case."

Corry's reaction? Part of him is pleased that Stein didn't add his voice to the notion that medical marijuana contracts aren't worth the paper on which they're written. But he remains troubled by the lack of clarity concerning the issue.

In his words, "We now need to decide whether we go through the lengthy and expensive process of dealing with the case at the district court level, or whether we take it to the Court of Appeals," where a decision would indeed set precedent.

The latter course makes sense to him "in light of Amendment 64. We need to know -- and every investor I've spoken with brings this up -- if we're above the law, or if we can be called into courts to deal with contracts.

"We need to know the landscape going forward, and we can travel either landscape," he continues. "If the landscape is yes, your contracts are enforceable in state court and your litigants can't just throw them out, that's fine. And if the converse is the case -- your contracts aren't enforceable, and you can't sue or be sued and expect the state court to deal with it -- we can deal with that as well. In that case, the industry would be uniquely above the law."

Continue to see the original motion to dismiss the lawsuit and the judge's subsequent ruling.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts