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Substance Abuse and Its Effect on Lawyers


Vol. 39 No. 5

By Morgan Windbiel
Throughout 2010, the ABA Standing Committee on Substance Abuse made it a goal to bring transparency to the effects of substance abuse on state and federal legislation, family law, professional responsibility in the law, and many other important legal areas.
With the increase in state-enacted marijuana control laws inconsistent with federal law, the Standing Committee hosted the Presidential Showcase program “Marijuana Regulation and Federalism: A Clash of State and Federal Policy” at ABA’s 2010 Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The nearly standing-room only crowd was informed of the legal consequences of abiding by the broader state laws and the economic effects that will be seen with further enactment of similar legislation.   CLE materials from the program can be found on the Committee’s website.

Another legal area that has been heavily addressed is that of family law and the effects of substance abuse on children. The Committee aided by the several ABA entities in developing the website Parents Helping Their Children with Drugs and Alcohol, Treatment and Recovery, the Law and the Courts. This website serves as an educational tool for parents dealing with children and drug and alcohol abuse.

With the aid of the ABA Center for CLE, the Standing Committee has been hard at work creating a series of webinars aimed to delve deeper into the issue of prescription drug abuse, as well as sub-regulatory guidance on the Federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

Looking ahead to the ABA’s 2011 Midyear Meeting in Atlanta, the Standing Committee will be hosting a program aimed at prescription drug abuse and its many impacts on the legal profession––ranging from its effects on lawyers, criminal defense, commercial practice, family law, small practice, and many other substantive areas of the law.

Finally, the Standing Committee offers several tools for lawyers when substance abuse is an issue: Lawyers and Teen Substance Abuse; Lawyers and Substance Abuse Prevention; Domestic Violence and Substance Abuse; and Truancy, Literacy, Substance Abuse, and the Courts. Each year, the Standing Committee partners with SAMHSA, the Federal Recovery Month coordinator, and other public sector entities, national and local coalitions to develop a Recovery Month Activities Toolkit.

More information about the Standing Committee on Substance Abuse.

—Morgan Windbiel, a second-year student at Chapman University School of Law, is the 2010–11 liaison to the Standing Committee on Substance Abuse.

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