CannaBeat is a curated biweekly selection of top news stories impacting business, research, and culture in the cannabis industry, crafted by Emerge Law Group.
Emerge’s Hot Take
As of today, 38 states have some form of cannabis legalization within their borders. Even with the growing popular support, the federal government has been reluctant to change their stance on cannabis legalization on any level. As the tides of public opinion continue to shift, Massachusetts is taking a stance, filing a lawsuit October 26th challenging the federal prohibition of cannabis, particularly how it pertains to states’ rights. The Commonwealth alleges that the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) deprives cannabis businesses of their rights under the 5th amendment by introducing “unwarranted and unlawful federal government intrusion” in the business and depriving them of liberty without due process. Massachusetts has asked the court to deem the CSA unconstitutional.
One of the core arguments Massachusetts is making in their lawsuit is that states have the right to make decisions about the regulation and legalization of substances withing their borders as long as they do not conflict with the Constitution. The case goes on to highlight the broader issues of states’ rights, with the underlying argument that states should be free to set their own polices without federal interference. A key aspect to the legal challenge focuses on harms the CSA causes including severance from federal government programs and punitive taxation structures.
This suit reflects shifting attitudes toward cannabis, and the state’s desire to assert their own autonomy in regulating this complex and controversial issue. As the legal battle unfolds, it could set a precedent for how states address federal laws that conflict with their own polices. Whether it leads to a change in federal law or not, it demonstrates the need for cooperation between state and federal governments to address these multi-layered issues.
Other Noteworthy News
“When cannabis is legalized, a lot is at stake for the existing, state-level industry. The entrepreneurs who make up weed’s $33.8 billion market are predominantly small business owners. A new report says they’re worth protecting. The report, ‘How to Federally Legalize Cannabis Without Violating the Constitution or Undermining Equity and Justice,’ was ideated by the Parabola Center for Law and Policy. Its author, Tamar Todd, is an attorney with a breadth of experience in drug policy. She also serves as a lecturer at the U.C. Berkeley School of Law teaching cannabis law and policy. It offers a clear blueprint for Congress to protect the cannabis industry, ensure justice, and not obliterate the hard work that the states have done in the last decade. America’s weed industry is made up of over 10,000 small businesses providing an estimated 400,000 jobs across the country. According to Parabola Center founder and director Shaleen Title, the report was written to address ‘concerns that federal marijuana legalization would wipe out current state markets and replace them with a national monopoly.’ The report urges a gradual legalization approach. ‘Excitement for federal legalization is mounting because state programs have led to good jobs and a lot of progress toward our goals of equity and justice,’ says Title. ‘But flipping a switch to federally legalize marijuana would end all of that progress. A gradual implementation that protects small businesses and workers is the fairest option for everyone.’”
“A coalition of 31 bipartisan House lawmakers has sent a letter to the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), urging the agency to take into account congressional and state marijuana legalization efforts as it carries out a review into cannabis scheduling. They also criticized the limitations of simple rescheduling as they push for complete a complete removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The Friday letter to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, led by Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chairs Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Dave Joyce (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Brian Mast (R-FL) and first reported by Punchbowl News, states that the agency’s ongoing marijuana scheduling review that came at the direction of President Joe Biden represents a ‘necessary step in the work to end the federal government’s failed and discriminatory prohibition of cannabis.’ But as it completes the review—which comes after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended that DEA move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act CSA—the lawmakers said that the law enforcement agency should consider that Congress has been working to comprehensive reform federal cannabis laws. The letter says that ‘the administration and relevant agencies such as yours should recognize the merits of full descheduling and work with congressional leaders to ensure this happens,’ adding that prohibition ‘does not reflect the will of the broader American electorate’ and ‘it is time that [DEA’s] work fully reflects this reality as well.’…”
“The Emerald Cup’s marquee winter event that celebrates small craft cannabis farmers in Northern California and connects them with prospective buyers across the state is being canceled this year, according to sources familiar with the situation. The Harvest Ball Festival, which has drawn more than 13,000 attendees to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds the past few years, will forgo this year’s installment as event organizers focus efforts and resources on the Emerald Cup’s 20th anniversary event in the San Francisco Bay Area in the spring of 2024, sources told MJBizDaily. Harvest Ball organizers hadn’t announced specific dates for this year’s event. Emerald Cup officials declined to comment on this story. The Harvest Ball, held in December in Santa Rosa the past two years, marks the start of the Emerald Cup Competition. The event, one of the oldest and most established awards shows and B2B gatherings in the cannabis industry, highlights organic outdoor-grown and indoor-grown flower. Major sponsors have included Rebel Grown, a Humboldt County-based company that produces organic, sun-grown cannabis and other products, and Redwood Roots, a distributor that sources bulk marijuana from the Emerald Triangle. The Harvest Ball event and the Emerald Cup were established by Tim Blake, an industry vanguard and key player in the rise of the Emerald Triangle, long considered the most fertile cannabis-producing region in the world….”
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