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Is It Time to Grow Your Marijuana Practice?

Is it too cheesy to say that the pot practice is growing like a weed?

Hey, it is what it is. Marijuana actually does grow like a weed and some lawyers are riding high on its popularity.

According to a CBS poll, support for legalized marijuana is growing. More than 60 percent of Americans think it should be legal for recreational use and 88 percent favor it for medical use.

While representing marijuana "drug dealers" may have been a stigma a decade ago, more civil attorneys have emerged from the shadows and are competing for marijuana business clients. Legal developments have helped.

California Dreaming

The Golden State joined other "recreational use" states when voters approved Prop. 64 last year, but at the same time California became the largest marijuana market in the country. Favored with the world's seventh largest economy, the opportunity for attorneys to grow a pot practice is there.

The state is already lining up legislation to regulate the marijuana business as the voter-approved initiative takes effect next year. The governor has proposed a law to harmonize, i.e. tax, recreational and medical marijuana businesses.

While federal laws still criminalize marijuana cultivation, distribution and use, the courts are carving out exceptions in states that legalize it. Last year, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals turned back Department of Justice prosecutions in some states and this year the court is considering a challenge to rules by the Drug Enforcement Agency to outlaw non-psychoactive cannabis use.

In Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use, the industry has helped grow other businesses. Attorneys, often solo practitioners and small firm lawyers, opened pot practices to supplement their business and criminal practices.

Expanding Practices

A handful of states have approved recreational use, but scores have authorized medicinal use. And in Illinois, for example, it spawned marijuana business in national law firms.

William Bogot, a partner at Fox Rothschild, heads the firm's marijuana practice in Chicago. He had worked in the gambling industry as a regulatory attorney, and discovered the marijuana practice was similar.

"The gambling space is a very highly regulated world," he told the Associated Press. "When the new medical cannabis law came to Illinois, it wasn't all so different. ... It was kind of like a natural fit for us."

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