In September of 2015, the
American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH) made an announcement concerning their efforts to persuade the legislature
in Pennsylvania to update the law to provide new legal protections for
lawyers in the Keystone State working with the cannabis industry. The
push comes as the General Assembly is considering the legalization of
medical marijuana, and it has the support of
Andrew Sacks of
Sacks Weston Diamond LLC, the only lawyer whom ATACH has selected to serve on the group’s
State Level Coalition.
Sacks was quoted in the organization’s press release, saying that
“lawyers representing cannabis businesses must be able to do so
without fear of running afoul of the law or losing their license by representing
members of the industry.” With success, ATACH’s effort to
include legal protections for marijuana lawyers would open the door for
members of the bar to counsel individuals and businesses in relation to
Pennsylvania marijuana laws, such as with respect to operating a dispensary
for medical marijuana. Without this protection, attorneys would tend to
shy away from providing counsel or representation to businesses in the
medical cannabis industry out of concerns for their professional reputation
Support of ATACH’s legislative efforts is not the only example of
the work that Sacks has been doing to assist with the legalization of
medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. In no chronological order:
He has been chosen to be a guest or lead speaker at numerous seminars for the
Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the
Pennsylvania Canna-Business Seminar, and the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
- He personally worked closely with both the Pennsylvania Bar Association
and the Philadelphia Bar Association to establish the Medical Marijuana
and Hemp Law Committees of both groups.
- He has served as the co-chair of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Medical
Marijuana and Hemp Law Committee, as appointed by the PBA President Sara Austin.
He has been the co-chair of the
Philadelphia Bar Association Business Law Section: Medical Marijuana and
- He is a Cannabis Law Directory Member, and was a Board of Directors member
for the Philadelphia Tri-State Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America.
- He lobbied state senators who were involved in drafting the Pennsylvania
medical marijuana act to include lupus on the list of conditions for which
the drug would be made available as a treatment, as well as to feature
a generalized pain provision in the law.
He was among the faculty for a continuing legal education (CLE) simulcast
on behalf of the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, “Pennsylvania's Proposed Medical Cannabis Act.” It was well attended and the subject of keen interest among attorneys
hoping to learn the latest information about how the state law might affect
their practice and the broader business community in Pennsylvania.
The Legal Intelligencer in a piece about the question of whether attorneys in Pennsylvania might
avoid working with parties in the cannabis industry. Sacks was also quoted
in two other prominent articles from
The Legal Intelligencer about the
Pennsylvania Bar Association's push to update legislation and the
Pennsylvania and Philadelphia bars' opinion on the pot industry. In total, he has been quoted by
The Legal Intelligencer 16 times.
- The National Lupus Organization requested Mr. Sacks’ assistance in
changing their stance to favor cannabis as a treatment for patients.
He requested of the Philadelphia Bar Association for an advisory opinion
concerning whether lawyers can represent any company or person involved
in the marijuana industry without violating the Canons of Ethics in Pennsylvania,
which led to a
rare combined opinion published by both the Philadelphia Bar Association and the Pennsylvania
- He was on a panel of experts, specialists, and legal professionals at a
series of continuing legal education (CLE) events, during which attorneys
from around the state gathered to learn about the marijuana act and ethical
issues involved with the area.
With the passage of the marijuana act, ATACH will be the trade organization
for any and all businesses working in the cannabis industry in Pennsylvania.
As the only attorney listed as a member of ATACH, this positions Sacks
as a leading legal authority in the field of
marijuana law in Pennsylvania, a role he has earned through his ongoing research, lobbying, and advocacy
in the field.