Cannabis companies in Massachusetts decide to challenge constitutionality of federal drug law

A group of cannabis businesses operating in Massachusetts filed a lawsuit on Thursday challenging federal law banning marijuana as an unconstitutional infringement on state powers.

Represented by lawyer David Boies, the companies–Massachusetts retailer Canna Provisions, marijuana delivery business owner Gyasi Sellers, Wiseacre Farm and multistate operator Verano Holdings– sued U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts. The lawsuit claims that the federal Controlled Substances Act undermines state law, harms the owners’ businesses and threatens their public safety by forcing them to operate largely on a cash basis.

Cannabis has been broadly legalized in 23 states, but the federal law, according to the lawsuit, prevents cannabis businesses from receiving loans from the Small Business Administration, saddles them with heavy taxes and prevents them from using trademark law to protect their intellectual property, among other effects. They also say the threat of federal enforcement has kept people and businesses within Massachusetts from working with the cannabis businesses.

“We want to be treated equally, on an even playing field with any other small business in Massachusetts,” Meg Sanders, CEO and co-founder of Canna Provisions, said in a statement.

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Congress’ intent to “eradicate” marijuana from interstate commerce was enough to support the federal government’s intrusion on state regulation of the drug.

“Outdated precedents from decades ago no longer apply,” Boies said in a statement. “The Supreme Court has since made clear that the federal government lacks the authority to regulate purely intrastate commerce.”


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