Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )

What should I do with my medical cannabis past?

Make it the subject of your personal statement
9
23%
Have it as an addendum in your applications
5
13%
Do not mention it at all
25
64%
 
Total votes: 39

lawquestionguy
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Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby lawquestionguy » Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:37 pm

THIS IS A LONG POST: FEEL FREE TO GO TO THE BOTTOM FOR THE TL;DR SUMMARY.

Hey all. First of all, let me say I love the site, I've been a lurker for a while but decided to register this account so I could ask this question. First, a little background information.

I'm a recent graduate of a top university - I got a B.A. with a 3.75+ GPA, and I just took the LSAT in October... I'm guessing I scored between 170-175 based on the practice tests. Anyway, I'm starting to write my personal statement, and I'm struggling mightily to come up with a topic that expresses my interest in the law, my drive and determination, and a little bit about what makes me unique. I had fun, chased girls, partied, spent time with friends, etc... I didn't have a job nor interesting summer internship during college (though I had some jobs that I hated and would not make good writing material for a PS). My point is, when I look back for subjects for my PS that can set me apart, I fail to see anything.

That's where medical cannabis comes in. During my senior year, I founded a medical cannabis collective with a friend of mine. My interests were both pecuniary (it's a profitable field with a lot of growth), politically and legally (i'm strongly against the drug war and current drug law in this country, and believe it has not only negative practical consequences in terms of lives lost and money wasted, but also as a violation of the fundamental individual freedoms and privacy rights that I believe are crucial to the law in the U.S.), and also on some level compassionate (we helped a lot of people while we were in business... people who not only suffered from cancer, but arthritis, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, etc.) It was also just exciting to start a new business in a rapidly expanding field. And yes, at the time I smoked to treat anxiety.

The business was set up legally as a Mutual Benefit Non Profit Corporation, and we did delivery... at our peak, we had over 150+ patients registered to receive medicine from us. In the process, I learned a lot about business, a lot about the law (non-profit laws, business laws, city ordinances, drug laws, etc.) We never had any encounters with the police, but fairly shortly after our launch (at about 2 months in) we decided to shut down. A little before that time, I was leaning towards getting out of it entirely anyway, as I was starting to consider going to law school and did not want it to reflect poorly on character and fitness in the future. I was involved in the process for pretty much my whole senior year, about 8 months or so - we launched after about 6 months and closed, as I said, about 2 months after the launch.

Anyway, I wanted to put the question before the knowledgeable and helpful members of the TLS forums... how do I present/not present this information to the law schools I am applying to? I'd like to hold back what I currently think I'm going to do so I don't influence anyone's opinions on the subject. Right now, I believe my options are to put it in my personal statement and embrace it, to put it in my addenda and embrace the positive parts and explain away the negative aspects, or to simply not mention it at all, and if it ever comes up in the future, to explain it away as having had a limited role as an advisor in it. In terms of my personal situation now, I no longer smoke (it just doesn't fit into my lifestyle anymore) nor am I particularly affiliated with

As of now, I am planning on applying to: Harvard, Berkeley, Stanford, Columbia, Michigan, Georgetown, UCLA, and USC. If anyone thinks that I should do one thing for some of the schools and another thing for other schools, please let me know.

Thanks for your help!

TL;DR: I started a medical marijuana company during college and I am unsure how that will impact my admissions chances/how I should present that information. Thanks.

P.S. I can answer any questions you have to ask about my situation. However, I don't want to reveal any more personal and potentially revealing information, for obvious reasons.

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Mr. T
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby Mr. T » Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:40 pm

Dude, if smoking reefer helps you get a 170-175 - role me a fatty! :)

lawquestionguy
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby lawquestionguy » Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:51 pm

a) Stopped smoking well over a month before the LSAT.
b) Hate to be uptight, but I've heard pretty much every "reefer madness" joke imaginable, so I'd prefer more serious answers, thanks.

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Mr. T
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby Mr. T » Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:57 pm

I don't think your background will hurt you. It is a legal business and you were within the law owning/operating such a business. Period. No worries from what I can see.

I would not use it in a personal statement - but I would list it (starting the business) as an accomplishment.

There was one poster who was an escort and got into some good schools - I think she was very upfront with her profession - but I'm quite certain she did not use this in her personal statement. In short, don't hide the fact you ran this business - but don't make it a focus of your app.
Last edited by Mr. T on Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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emilybeth
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby emilybeth » Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:58 pm

Mr. T wrote:I don't think your background will hurt you. It is a legal business and you were within the law owning/operating such a business. Period. No worries from what I can see.


This is not correct.

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Mr. T
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby Mr. T » Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:59 pm

How is this not correct?

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emilybeth
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby emilybeth » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:11 pm

Mr. T wrote:How is this not correct?


Ever heard of federal law?

lawquestionguy
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby lawquestionguy » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:11 pm

Mr. T wrote:I don't think your background will hurt you. It is a legal business and you were within the law owning/operating such a business. Period. No worries from what I can see.

I would not use it in a personal statement - but I would list it (starting the business) as an accomplishment.

There was one poster who was an escort and got into some good schools - I think she was very upfront with her profession - but I'm quite certain she did not use this in her personal statement. In short, don't hide the fact you ran this business - but don't make it a focus of your app.


Thanks for the thoughtful reply... I can admit that I'd be proud to list it as an accomplishment. I might need to clarify that although it was entirely legal under the law of the state we operated in, it was not legal under Federal law (nor is any medical marijuana enterprise in any state, for that matter.) A strange contradiction, and one that I believe will no longer exist within 20 years... but I digress.

lawquestionguy
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby lawquestionguy » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:13 pm

emilybeth wrote:
Mr. T wrote:How is this not correct?


Ever heard of federal law?


This is one of the things I've been considering... can you tell me a bit more about your opinion in terms of how I should approach this?

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Shaggier1
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby Shaggier1 » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:25 pm

A little before that time, I was leaning towards getting out of it entirely anyway, as I was starting to consider going to law school and did not want it to reflect poorly on character and fitness in the future.


I don't understand. You wanted to get out because you knew you wanted to go to law school. Now you are saying you want to include it as part of your application to law school?

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let/them/eat/cake
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby let/them/eat/cake » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:28 pm

this is interesting. i think it could be an awesome PS, if done properly.

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YCrevolution
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby YCrevolution » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:37 pm

..

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vanwinkle
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby vanwinkle » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:44 pm

The only way I would recommend talking about this is doing it from a perspective of how you now want to work to change the law but understand that to do so you have to work within it, and you're dedicated to respecting the law as it stands until you can change it. Or something along those lines, that clearly indicates your current desire to obey the law to go along with your discussion of this.

I agree that you might want to talk to a lawyer about how this will affect C&F issues.

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tea_drinker
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby tea_drinker » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:46 pm

emilybeth wrote:
Mr. T wrote:How is this not correct?


Ever heard of federal law?


In terms of legal issues, you should check when cannabis was added to the Controlled Substance Act, also while your business is up and running, if your state has any legislation that allow the selling/purchasing of cannabis (i.e. California). This is not a legal advice though, so please with others.

lawquestionguy
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby lawquestionguy » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:47 pm

Shaggier1 wrote:
A little before that time, I was leaning towards getting out of it entirely anyway, as I was starting to consider going to law school and did not want it to reflect poorly on character and fitness in the future.


I don't understand. You wanted to get out because you knew you wanted to go to law school. Now you are saying you want to include it as part of your application to law school?


Yeah I can see how that comes off as a contradiction... Allow me to clarify. When I started considering ending the business, there were a few factors - a need for a more steady source of income to pay the bills, a weariness of the politics and scheming in the field, and a desire to pursue a career in law which I had been considering since high school. Also, I kind of feared (and some had suggested to me) that as a violation of Federal law it might have bad implications for getting into law school and passing the bar and becoming an attorney in the future. However, I still have not gotten a straight answer on that. If anyone could give me a source to look at for a straight answer on how this could affect me in the future in terms of the bar, it'd be appreciated.

I'm not really saying I want to put it in my application. I'm saying I don't know if I should put it in my application. On one hand, I believe it's compelling and positive on a personal level as it shows an entrepreneurial spirit and leadership skills... on the other hand, I fear that it shows contempt for the law, which is a big no-no (by that, I mean Federal law - I can reiterate that we were entirely legal under state law). Currently, I believe I should at least mention it in my addenda, so they hear it from me and not from someone else, unless someone presents compelling evidence why I shouldn't mention it.

Hope that clarifies it...

lawquestionguy
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby lawquestionguy » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:49 pm

YCrevolution wrote:
Shaggier1 wrote:
A little before that time, I was leaning towards getting out of it entirely anyway, as I was starting to consider going to law school and did not want it to reflect poorly on character and fitness in the future.


I don't understand. You wanted to get out because you knew you wanted to go to law school. Now you are saying you want to include it as part of your application to law school?

Not only that, but if there ever was a person who should consult with an attorney who does C&F issues, OP is that person.


Thanks for the advice... if I'm lucky maybe an attorney will answer it on this board. Is there a forum you'd recommend where an attorney would answer a question like this, or should I just try cold-calling a few directly and hoping they'll give me five minutes of their time to answer it?

lawquestionguy
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby lawquestionguy » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:51 pm

tbldc2009 wrote:
emilybeth wrote:
Mr. T wrote:How is this not correct?


Ever heard of federal law?


In terms of legal issues, you should check when cannabis was added to the Controlled Substance Act, also while your business is up and running, if your state has any legislation that allow the selling/purchasing of cannabis (i.e. California). This is not a legal advice though, so please with others.


Yea, cannabis has been in the CSA since it's enactment in 1970, so under Federal law, we were illegal. My state is California, so yes, under Prop 215 and Senate Bill 420 we were legally allowed and licensed to sell cannabis.

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YCrevolution
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby YCrevolution » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:54 pm

..

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CGI Fridays
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby CGI Fridays » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:56 pm

For UC Berkeley, sure, rock a PS.
For Emory, do your best to play it down.Edit: just read your schools. Georgetown etc.: no.

In general, it seems risky to flaunt it. Just hearing "medicine" used to refer to marijuana is absolutely hilarious. I realize that some actually use it for medicinal purposes, but the percentage of medical marijuana smokers who are just gettin' high has got to be significantly above 95%. And yes, you were one of them. We can all say we "suffer" from anxiety, & smoking weed certainly "treats" it. So does booze. So do [redacted], [redacted] and [redacted].
Last edited by CGI Fridays on Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BeachedBrit
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby BeachedBrit » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:57 pm

I think your best bet, if you have a burning desire to discuss the Marijuana business as it seems you do and should, would be to prepare 2 personal statements. One about the business and another strong one about something else, something completely legal. Send the Marijuana one to any west coast and/or liberal law schools you might apply to and the other one to any east coast and/or conservative schools you might apply to. For instance I can see how Berkeley or Boulder would react differently to this topic than Georgetown, a bastion of federal law. Naturally this is just going to be speculatory though as I doubt many, if any, here have written a PS on that topic and completed a full cycle using it exclusively.

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tea_drinker
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby tea_drinker » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:59 pm

lawquestionguy wrote:
tbldc2009 wrote:
emilybeth wrote:
Mr. T wrote:How is this not correct?


Ever heard of federal law?


In terms of legal issues, you should check when cannabis was added to the Controlled Substance Act, also while your business is up and running, if your state has any legislation that allow the selling/purchasing of cannabis (i.e. California). This is not a legal advice though, so please with others.


Yea, cannabis has been in the CSA since it's enactment in 1970, so under Federal law, we were illegal. My state is California, so yes, under Prop 215 and Senate Bill 420 we were legally allowed and licensed to sell cannabis.


If you did receive a legal business license for your shop, you can argue for it. Since federal and CA have not resolved their legal conflict, you may not commit any misconducts. But I will consider vanwinkle's and YCrevolution's advice, too.
Last edited by tea_drinker on Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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lalalawya
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby lalalawya » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:59 pm

This is the Bar admission requirements handbook for 2010 --LinkRemoved--

There is a C&F section in there. I have no idea whether your question can be answered by it but it may help to look through.
Last edited by lalalawya on Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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blurbz
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby blurbz » Fri Oct 15, 2010 7:59 pm

lawquestionguy wrote: Thanks for the advice... if I'm lucky maybe an attorney will answer it on this board. Is there a forum you'd recommend where an attorney would answer a question like this, or should I just try cold-calling a few directly and hoping they'll give me five minutes of their time to answer it?



Call an attorney, get advice from her, and pay her. That's the way it'll work and you'll save yourself a lot of headaches if you get good advice from a good attorney now. You operated in direct violation of federal law. I understand that there is some gray area in terms of enforcement, but the fact remains that you broke the law: You will need the help of an attorney to navigate a very tricky area of developing law. I don't think all hope is lost at all since it is such an interesting and controversial area, but I do think you should ensure you have all the help you can get.

lawquestionguy
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby lawquestionguy » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:05 pm

lalalawya wrote:This is the Bar admission requirements handbook for 2010 --LinkRemoved--

There is a C&F section in there. I have no idea whether your question can be answered by it but it may help to look through.


Thanks... I'm going to go ahead and look through that right now before I start calling attorneys.

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lalalawya
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Re: Medical Cannabis and Law School Admissions

Postby lalalawya » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:06 pm

I know there is a directory listed on the bottom of the handbook listing contact info for all of the state agencies. Perhaps an anonymous call inquiring would be possible if the info you need is not included?


lawquestionguy wrote:
lalalawya wrote:This is the Bar admission requirements handbook for 2010 --LinkRemoved--

There is a C&F section in there. I have no idea whether your question can be answered by it but it may help to look through.


Thanks... I'm going to go ahead and look through that right now before I start calling attorneys.




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