With marijuana dispensary busts lighting up the news and 4/20 (the semi-official April 20 pot holiday) coming up, cannabis appears to be on the public's radar. Not everyone may like it, but for marijuana lawyers, this might signal that becoming mainstream might not be far off for them.
There are whole organizations dedicated to marijuana law reform and defense strategies -- some even hold seminars on the subjects.
But for attorneys looking to specialize, is marijuana litigation big enough to encompass an entire practice or is the mainstream still a ways off?
Even if you are a true believer in the cause, you may not want to fire off that resignation email to the firm yet. Sure, the market for those in need of marijuana defense attorneys is no doubt substantial. In 2010, more than half of all drug-related arrests were marijuana offenses, according to FBI statistics. And cannabis itself is the DEA's second most-seized narcotic after hallucinogens.
This all points to a huge potential market of clients in need of competent marijuana defense attorneys.
But the problem for young lawyers looking to build a successful marijuana practice isn't a lack of demand, but rather a lack of client's willing to pay for it.
Research indicates that heavy marijuana users generally have lower incomes. While some of you might not find that revelation all that shocking, those looking to specialize in cannabis defense work should keep it in mind.
But there are still a lot of lawyers who regularly handle drug cases. However, the key seems to be that it's not all they do. Like most growing practices, generalizing in a little bit of everything might be more profitable than being amazing in just one area. Cannabis litigation is no different.
So while marijuana lawyers are becoming more mainstream, building a successful practice on it alone might not be feasible yet.