A coalition of major marijuana businesses represented by an influential law firm has filed a much-anticipated lawsuit against the U.S. attorney general, seeking to block the federal government from enforcing cannabis prohibition for state-legal activity.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Western Division, by multi-state operator Verano Holdings Corp. and the Massachusetts-based cannabis businesses Canna Provisions and Wiseacre Farm, along with Treevit CEO Gyasi Sellers
A press release says that Ascend Wellness Holdings, TerrAscend, Green Thumb Industries, Eminence Capital and Poseidon Investment Management are “foundational supporters” of the suit.
The law firms Boies Schiller Flexner and Lesser, Newman, Aleo & Nasser LLP are representing the plaintiffs. David Boies, chairman of the former firm, has a long list of prior clients that includes the Justice Department, former Vice President Al Gore and the plaintiffs in a case that led to the invalidation of California’s ban on same-sex marriage, among others.
“The federal criminalization of safe, regulated marijuana commerce in states where it is legal unfairly burdens legal operations and expands the production and sale of illegal marijuana that is unregulated, can be unsafe, and is likely to find its way to other states,” Boies said in a press release on Thursday. “Federal criminalization also denies small, legal marijuana businesses of access to SBA loans, investors, benefits for their employees, and normal banking regulations (which among other things, forces them to rely on cash transactions with all of the dangers to them, and to the community, that result)—as well as burdening them with discriminatory taxes.”
“Americans believe that cannabis should be legal and available subject to reasonable regulation by the states. 38 states have legalized some form of cannabis,” he said. “The federal government lacks authority to prohibit intrastate cannabis commerce. Outdated precedents from decades ago no longer apply—the Supreme Court has since made clear that the federal government lacks the authority to regulate purely intrastate commerce; moreover, the facts on which those precedents are based are no longer true.”
The suit claims that the plaintiffs has suffered “numerous” harms “caused by the federal government’s unconstitutional ban on cultivating, manufacturing, distributing, or possessing intrastate marijuana.”
Cannabis business executives first described plans to file the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of enforcing criminalization of intrastate marijuana activity under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) last year.
This story is developing and will be updated.