Opinion 23-100

Short-Form Opinion


September 7, 2023



Question:    May a full-time judge invest in a cannabis company which has an active state license to operate a retail dispensary in New York?  May the judge’s spouse and other relatives, who are neither judges nor employees of the Unified Court System, invest in, consult for, or be employed by a cannabis company?   


Discussion:  Here, while the company in question will lawfully sell products in a New York municipality and will not be selling the product across state lines, its purchasers may subsequently transport the cannabis product into a state where possession of cannabis is not legal. Thus, the customers of the cannabis dispensary would be violating both the foreign state and federal laws, and a judge must “respect and comply with the law” (22 NYCRR 100.2[A]).  In light of the patchwork legal status of marijuana, a judge may not invest in a company if the post-sale transport of the legal product violates foreign state or federal law. Therefore, the inquiring judge may not invest in a company with New York cannabis retail sales under the current state of cannabis law outside New York state.


                  We have further advised that the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not apply to a judge’s spouse or other relatives.  We conclude you have no ethical duty to object to the bona fide independent activities of your spouse or other relatives in connection with a licensed cannabis company.


Enclosed:    Opinions 20-208; 18-169; 19-148(B); 16-91; 15-62.