The Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics issued an opinion stating that New Jersey lawyers may use regulated cannabis, and may operate or invest in a regulated cannabis business, without violating the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The committee stated that its opinion stemmed from an inquiry on the use of regulated cannabis and multiple attorney ethics research hotline calls from New Jersey lawyers inquiring about the rules surrounding the operation of or investment in cannabis businesses.
Although the conduct remains technically illegal under federal law, according to the opinion, it does not violate Rule 8.4(b), which prohibits lawyers from committing “a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”
New Jersey enacted a law in 2010 that permitted cannabis use for medical purposes. In 2020, New Jersey voters approved by referendum a constitutional amendment legalizing recreational use in the state. In 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement, Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act, which implemented the marketplace for the sale of regulated cannabis. Approved dispensaries, which are overseen by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, opened for recreational sales on April 21, 2022.