U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Cases Seeking Workers’ Comp for Medical Cannabis

The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday denied petitions to hear two cases challenging Minnesota’s refusal to allow coverage for medical cannabis through the state’s workers’ compensation program. In both cases, workers sought a review of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision finding that the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) supersedes state law, resulting in a denial of coverage for medicinal cannabis for the employees’ work-related injuries.

The Supreme Court invited the U.S. Department of Justice to file a brief in the case before making a decision. In its response, the Justice Department agreed with the Minnesota court that the CSA does preempt state law. But attorneys with the Justice Department also argued that the states have not adequately addressed the issue of federal preeminence and urged the Supreme Court to reserve judgment on evolving law.

The case was not the first time a state court had ruled on workers’ compensation coverage for medical pot. In 2014, the New Mexico Court of Appeals approved the reimbursement of claims for medicinal cannabis for work-related injuries. But rulings on similar cases in Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Minnesota have not been consistent. Courts in New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey found that state law was not in conflict with the CSA and authorized workers’ compensation claims for medical cannabis. But in Maine, Massachusetts, and Minnesota, judges have ruled that federal law takes precedence.

Is the SCOTUS Decision Bad News?

Attorney Anne Davis, the co-founder of Bennabis Health, a company specializing in affordable medical cannabis access for patients, says that the Supreme Court’s decision to decline to hear the cases is not necessarily a negative outcome for patients.

“While I would’ve loved a decision by the federal government mandating that cannabis is in fact a covered benefit, [the court] deferring to the states could be good in the grand scheme of the industry,” Davis writes in an email to High Times. “The more that the Supreme Court defers to states’ rights, I think the more it helps our growing industry. If the federal government takes the hands-off approach and leaves it to states’ rights, that allows the cannabis industry to grow and expand.”

With states taking the lead on pot reform, Davis believes federal legislation that permits cannabis trade between the states would create the most favorable climate for the industry.

“The problem we’re left to deal with is interstate commerce,” said Davis. “If we can somehow navigate that, then I think state rights having control over the cannabis industry is a much better option than the federal government rescheduling and allowing big Pharma to take control.”

Some advocates for cannabis policy reform had hoped the Supreme Court would weigh in on the Minnesota cases following comments from Justice Clarence Thomas last year indicating he believes the federal prohibition on pot no longer makes sense with so many states passing legislation in conflict with federal law.

“A prohibition on intrastate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the federal government’s piecemeal approach,” he wrote.

Unanswered Questions

Commentating on a case the Supreme Court declined to hear in which a Colorado cannabis dispensary challenged federal policy denying standard business deductions for weed companies, Thomas said that a 2005 high court ruling upholding the federal prohibition on cannabis possession may be out of date.

“Federal policies of the past 16 years have greatly undermined its reasoning,” he continued. “The federal government’s current approach is a half-in, half-out regime that simultaneously tolerates and forbids local use of marijuana.”

This week’s action by the U.S. Supreme Court leaves many unanswered questions about the viability of workers’ compensation coverage for medical cannabis. In an analysis of the denial to grant the petitions, The National Law Review wrote that the “Supreme Court’s decision to remain on the sidelines of the debate over marijuana legalization is disappointing to many who were hoping to see the high court help to break the logjam in Congress. The decision also leaves in place the clear conflict over workers’ compensation reimbursement of medical cannabis in state court decisions and facilitates the potential for further conflict as this issue continues to percolate throughout the country.”

The post U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Cases Seeking Workers’ Comp for Medical Cannabis appeared first on High Times.

Mississippi Supreme Court Upholds Life Sentence for Weed Possession

The Mississippi Supreme Court voted last week to uphold a life sentence without the possibility of parole for a man who was convicted of possessing less than three ounces of weed. The court voted 6-3 to confirm the penalty for the defendant, Allen Russell, who was sentenced under Mississippi’s habitual offender statute.

“Because the trial judge followed the law to the letter, we affirm,” Justice Robert P. Chamberlin wrote in the majority opinion quoted by the Epoch Times. “The trial judge did not have sentencing discretion in this case.”

Russell was arrested in 2017 for possessing five bags of cannabis weighing a combined total of 79.5 grams (just over 2.5 ounces) that police discovered while executing a search warrant. Lab analysis of two of the bags determined they contained 43.71 grams (about 1.54 ounces) of cannabis, and Russell was indicted on one charge of possessing more than 30 grams but less than 250 grams of cannabis.

Normally, a conviction on such a charge would carry a sentence of up to three years in prison. But Russell was also charged with being a violent habitual offender, subjecting him to a mandatory life sentence without parole upon conviction.

Sentenced Under Mississippi Habitual Offender Law

During his trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Russell had three prior felony convictions, two for burglary and one for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Under Mississippi state law, a burglary is considered a violent offense, even if no evidence of actual violence against a person is presented in a case.

Russell had pleaded guilty to the burglary charges in 2004 and was given two concurrent 15-year sentences. He spent a little more than 8.5 years in prison and was released in 2014, the same year that Mississippi law was changed to classify burglary as a violent crime, even if no evidence of violence is presented in court.

A jury found Russell guilty of the possession charge in 2019 and the court found that he was a violent habitual offender under the law, sentencing him to life behind bars. Russell then sued to overturn the sentence, arguing it violated his right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and his constitutional right not to be subjected to ex post facto laws.

Chief Justice Michael Randolph wrote in a separate concurring opinion that Russell’s life sentence was not solely for cannabis possession and that he had been treated leniently by the courts in previous criminal cases, noting that the defendant “is no stranger to the criminal justice system.”

“Russell has received a harsh punishment not because he possessed a small amount of marijuana, but because he has repeatedly refused to abide by the laws enacted to protect all the citizens of our state,” Randolph wrote.

The chief justice added that it is “pertinent to note that the arrest came while law enforcement was attempting to serve another drug-related warrant on Russell as well as execute a search warrant on his premises.”

Justice Josiah Coleman wrote in a dissenting opinion that Russell has been poorly treated by the courts. He noted that there is uncertainty regarding Russell’s criminal history, writing that “burglary was not considered a per se crime of violence until” state law was changed in 2014. The defendant “pled guilty to two counts of burglary in 2004,” 10 years after the change. But “burglary was only considered a crime of violence if actual violence took place during the burglary” before the law was changed. The dissenting judges questioned if Russell actually had a violent criminal history.

“Prior to July 1, 2014, burglary was only considered a crime of violence if actual violence took place during the burglary,” reads the dissenting opinion. “We do not know whether Russell’s burglaries involved actual violence, but the fact that he was allowed the opportunity by the sentencing court to participate in the Regimented Inmate Discipline Program tends to indicate they did not.”

Appeals Court Confirmed Sentence Last Year

Last year, an appeals court voted 5-5 in Russell’s case, with the tie vote not enough to overturn the sentence. In an opinion upholding the penalty, the judges wrote that the sentence is in accordance with state law. But several dissenting judges wrote that courts can and should make exceptions when warranted.

“The purpose of the criminal justice system is to punish those who break the law, deter them from making similar mistakes, and give them the opportunity to become productive members of society,” appeals court Judge Latrice Westbrooks wrote in the 2021 dissenting opinion. “The fact that judges are not routinely given the ability to exercise discretion in sentencing all habitual offenders is completely at odds with this goal.”

The case was then appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court, which upheld the sentence in last week’s decision.

A petition on Change.org organized by the group Check Your Privilege is calling on Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves to commute Russell’s life sentence. As of Tuesday, the petition had garnered more than 100,000 signatures.

“There is no amount of cannabis that should land someone a life sentence,” reads the petition. “Allen Russel was found guilty of possession in 2019 over just an ounce of weed, meanwhile laws around recreational use are softening all across the US.”

Mason Tvert, a longtime cannabis activist and partner at cannabis policy firm VS Strategies, criticized the sentence, suggesting it should be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“It is tragically ironic that this man’s life is being taken away from him for possessing a substance which, used alone, has never taken a life,” Tvert wrote in an email to High Times. “This case certainly warrants further review and ought to be reversed.”

The post Mississippi Supreme Court Upholds Life Sentence for Weed Possession appeared first on High Times.

Will the Supreme Court Legalize Cannabis?

A great dark cloud hangs over the bright and sunny success of marijuana legalization in the US: federal law, which still declares cannabis an outlaw plant. This status quo causes great distress to American cannabis businesses and those still in federal prisons for marijuana offenses. Despite all the progress at the state level, this front of the drug war seems locked in a stalemate. Here’s a question: Can the Supreme Court legalize cannabis?

Of course; the US has three branches of government, and if Congress won’t legalize cannabis federally, and if President Joe Biden can’t, what about the Supreme Court? As long as the conservative majority on the John Roberts court is overturning long established precedent such as Roe v. Wade, could it overturn precedent related to cannabis prohibition? Or even the Controlled Substances Act itself? 

That’s the strategy Abner Kurtin, the CEO of Ascend Wellness, one of the smaller publicly traded cannabis companies operating in multiple states, recently announced he’ll try. Already successful in generating headlines—and, possibly, satisfying investors upset with recent losses and impatient with the stalemate in Congress—the strategy could work as legal experts consulted for this article told Cannabis Now, perhaps as a mechanism to pressure Congress into action, even if the Supreme Court never touches the Controlled Substances Act.

“I want to emphasize this is politically shrewd,” said Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University and executive director of the school’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. “It’s useful to have a two-front war, you might say. Maybe the legislature is more likely to respond when the courts are breathing down their necks.”

But this gambit isn’t without risks. The courts could reject the challenge, resulting in more lost money at a time when legal cannabis businesses are burning cash. Or the court could impose a vision of legalization that isn’t in anyone’s best interest.

Key details, including when the lawsuit will be filed or exactly what claims it’ll make, remain to be seen. Through a spokesperson, Kurtin declined to comment. 

But as he and Michael Bronstein, the president of lobbying group American Trade Association of Cannabis and Hemp explained to Marijuana Moment last month, at least six major cannabis companies will join in the suit. They will argue that the CSA is unconstitutionally applied to state-legal cannabis businesses. 

And doing the arguing for them will be attorneys from prominent white-shoe law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, chaired by the $1,950-an-hour SCOTUS veteran David Boies, who has famously argued several prominent cases before the nation’s top bench.

Bring on the Lobbyists

Shelling out a few million dollars on lawyers—on top of spending a fraction of that on lobbyists to change Congress’s minds—is a tactic familiar to old-school legalization advocates. This has all been done before, with varying levels of success that, in binary terms, all failed.

Various parties including federal prisoners, cannabis researchers, an ex-NFL player-turned-businessman and legalization advocacy groups have all tried to sue the federal government before—to reschedule cannabis, to deschedule cannabis. All have failed, and all but one failed to even reach the august bench of the Supreme Court. 

That one, Gonzalez vs. Raich, held that Congress’s powers under the Commerce Clause—the federal government’s Constitutional ability to regulate trade between the states—“includes the power to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana in compliance with” state law. 

That was the “best set of facts to overturn the Controlled Substances Act you could hope for,” observed Sam Kamin, a professor of law at the Denver University Sturm College of Law and a cannabis law expert. “And they didn’t do it.”

It stands to reason that the federal government isn’t really wielding this power at the moment, at least not insofar as it did with litigant Angel Raich, a severely ill cannabis patient in California whose backyard garden was raided by DEA agents. But what Kurtin and other cannabis executives want is relief from the pressures that do exist—on the banks and the taxman. 

If cannabis were descheduled, banking and taxation reform would be handled without need for Congress to legalize tax deductions and banking services. (Both the SAFE Banking Act as well as more ambitious federal legalization appear hopelessly stalled in the Senate, where 60 votes are required to even get a vote on the topic.) And companies could start shuttling cannabis in between states (although some companies don’t want that, at least not right away).

For MSOs such as Ascend Wellness, the “best possible outcome” will be a ruling that removes the federal government from cannabis entirely and leaves everything up to the states, Kamin said. The problem is that a ruling like that would also remove the federal government from any national standards around minority participation or other questions of equity—which means the legalization-minded social-justice advocates would hate it.

But again, overturning the CSA at the courts may not be the lone goal. “I think it’s part of a consistent and decades-long approach to critiquing and criticizing the CSA as not based in science, not based in the Constitution, and inconsistent with the will of the vast majority of the states and voters,” Kamin said. 

So, would the courts simply leave everything up to the states, or would the courts deschedule cannabis and hand the industry over to pharmaceutical companies with the resources to get Schedule II substances through the onerous Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process? All are possible. “Everything is on the table right now,” Kamin said.

That includes striking down other federal powers to enforce other laws. In this, there’s a strange and dangerous irony.

Obamacare Beware

In another life, a decade ago, the bugaboo of self-avowed libertarians, Ascend Wellness’s Kurtin, was the Affordable Care Act. While the Obama Administration’s Justice Department used the logic in the Raich decision to defend Obamacare from conservative challenges, Raich herself signed onto amicus briefs seeking to overturn the federal healthcare mandate. Arguments limiting the federal government’s power are more likely to be welcomed by conservative judges. 

And so, if the Raich precedent is put into the dustbin of history, so could other federal powers.

“They’ve got to figure out a way to bring down federal marijuana prohibition and regulation without bringing down the whole universe of federal health and safety laws,” said OSU’s Berman. No pressure.

So, will the Supreme Court legalize cannabis? As always, time will tell.

The post Will the Supreme Court Legalize Cannabis? appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Will the Supreme Court Legalize Cannabis?

A great dark cloud hangs over the bright and sunny success of marijuana legalization in the US: federal law, which still declares cannabis an outlaw plant. This status quo causes great distress to American cannabis businesses and those still in federal prisons for marijuana offenses. Despite all the progress at the state level, this front of the drug war seems locked in a stalemate. Here’s a question: Can the Supreme Court legalize cannabis?

Of course; the US has three branches of government, and if Congress won’t legalize cannabis federally, and if President Joe Biden can’t, what about the Supreme Court? As long as the conservative majority on the John Roberts court is overturning long established precedent such as Roe v. Wade, could it overturn precedent related to cannabis prohibition? Or even the Controlled Substances Act itself? 

That’s the strategy Abner Kurtin, the CEO of Ascend Wellness, one of the smaller publicly traded cannabis companies operating in multiple states, recently announced he’ll try. Already successful in generating headlines—and, possibly, satisfying investors upset with recent losses and impatient with the stalemate in Congress—the strategy could work as legal experts consulted for this article told Cannabis Now, perhaps as a mechanism to pressure Congress into action, even if the Supreme Court never touches the Controlled Substances Act.

“I want to emphasize this is politically shrewd,” said Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University and executive director of the school’s Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. “It’s useful to have a two-front war, you might say. Maybe the legislature is more likely to respond when the courts are breathing down their necks.”

But this gambit isn’t without risks. The courts could reject the challenge, resulting in more lost money at a time when legal cannabis businesses are burning cash. Or the court could impose a vision of legalization that isn’t in anyone’s best interest.

Key details, including when the lawsuit will be filed or exactly what claims it’ll make, remain to be seen. Through a spokesperson, Kurtin declined to comment. 

But as he and Michael Bronstein, the president of lobbying group American Trade Association of Cannabis and Hemp explained to Marijuana Moment last month, at least six major cannabis companies will join in the suit. They will argue that the CSA is unconstitutionally applied to state-legal cannabis businesses. 

And doing the arguing for them will be attorneys from prominent white-shoe law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, chaired by the $1,950-an-hour SCOTUS veteran David Boies, who has famously argued several prominent cases before the nation’s top bench.

Bring on the Lobbyists

Shelling out a few million dollars on lawyers—on top of spending a fraction of that on lobbyists to change Congress’s minds—is a tactic familiar to old-school legalization advocates. This has all been done before, with varying levels of success that, in binary terms, all failed.

Various parties including federal prisoners, cannabis researchers, an ex-NFL player-turned-businessman and legalization advocacy groups have all tried to sue the federal government before—to reschedule cannabis, to deschedule cannabis. All have failed, and all but one failed to even reach the august bench of the Supreme Court. 

That one, Gonzalez vs. Raich, held that Congress’s powers under the Commerce Clause—the federal government’s Constitutional ability to regulate trade between the states—“includes the power to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana in compliance with” state law. 

That was the “best set of facts to overturn the Controlled Substances Act you could hope for,” observed Sam Kamin, a professor of law at the Denver University Sturm College of Law and a cannabis law expert. “And they didn’t do it.”

It stands to reason that the federal government isn’t really wielding this power at the moment, at least not insofar as it did with litigant Angel Raich, a severely ill cannabis patient in California whose backyard garden was raided by DEA agents. But what Kurtin and other cannabis executives want is relief from the pressures that do exist—on the banks and the taxman. 

If cannabis were descheduled, banking and taxation reform would be handled without need for Congress to legalize tax deductions and banking services. (Both the SAFE Banking Act as well as more ambitious federal legalization appear hopelessly stalled in the Senate, where 60 votes are required to even get a vote on the topic.) And companies could start shuttling cannabis in between states (although some companies don’t want that, at least not right away).

For MSOs such as Ascend Wellness, the “best possible outcome” will be a ruling that removes the federal government from cannabis entirely and leaves everything up to the states, Kamin said. The problem is that a ruling like that would also remove the federal government from any national standards around minority participation or other questions of equity—which means the legalization-minded social-justice advocates would hate it.

But again, overturning the CSA at the courts may not be the lone goal. “I think it’s part of a consistent and decades-long approach to critiquing and criticizing the CSA as not based in science, not based in the Constitution, and inconsistent with the will of the vast majority of the states and voters,” Kamin said. 

So, would the courts simply leave everything up to the states, or would the courts deschedule cannabis and hand the industry over to pharmaceutical companies with the resources to get Schedule II substances through the onerous Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process? All are possible. “Everything is on the table right now,” Kamin said.

That includes striking down other federal powers to enforce other laws. In this, there’s a strange and dangerous irony.

Obamacare Beware

In another life, a decade ago, the bugaboo of self-avowed libertarians, Ascend Wellness’s Kurtin, was the Affordable Care Act. While the Obama Administration’s Justice Department used the logic in the Raich decision to defend Obamacare from conservative challenges, Raich herself signed onto amicus briefs seeking to overturn the federal healthcare mandate. Arguments limiting the federal government’s power are more likely to be welcomed by conservative judges. 

And so, if the Raich precedent is put into the dustbin of history, so could other federal powers.

“They’ve got to figure out a way to bring down federal marijuana prohibition and regulation without bringing down the whole universe of federal health and safety laws,” said OSU’s Berman. No pressure.

So, will the Supreme Court legalize cannabis? As always, time will tell.

The post Will the Supreme Court Legalize Cannabis? appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Mexican Supreme Court Issues Vague Support for Ending Prohibition

On May 11, the Mexican Supreme Court ruled in favor of “Édgar,” a young man facing prosecution for the last four years for cannabis possession. While he was absolved of his “crime,” the court failed to completely eliminate the criminalization of simple possession, ruling that it was not the police, but rather prosecutors and judges who should decide if possession is for personal use or not.

According to at least some of the judges, this was a victory. “The fact that the Public Prosecutor’s Office is allowed to initiate criminal proceedings against a person who possesses more than 5 grams of cannabis for personal consumption amounts to punishing moral qualities [and] personal behavior, which has no constitutional basis,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Juan Luis González Alcántara. “Criminal prosecution of the person who possesses cannabis in his or her private sphere, without affecting third parties or provoking a criminal incident, is not justified.”

Advocates, however, believe that this is a muddy, inconsequential decision by the Court (after years of behaving otherwise). Namely, they say the ruling is contradictory because it does not totally eliminate criminal charges for personal possession. Further it gives the public prosecutor too much leeway in deciding whether to pursue charges. People are still liable to be held by the police for up to 48 hours if arrested for possession, and of course, the resources taken up by this activity are still consequentially large. In 2020, more investigation files and preliminary investigations were initiated for simple cannabis possession than homicide (country wide).

Setting The Pace of Reform?

The decision is also clearly a surprise to court-watchers. Almost alone in the world at this point (apart from decisions in South Africa and Georgia), the Mexican Supreme Court has taken bold stands on the connection between cannabis possession, use, and fundamental human liberties and rights for the last seven years. And of these three countries, the Mexican court has been not only the most vocal, but at this point, has issued the most rulings.

The decision also came shortly after the Oaxaca City Council voted to stop police from arresting cannabis users as long as they were behaving respectfully. It also comes as the Mexican legislature is still plodding along on a cannabis bill, which was required by the court to pass last year.

The court’s decision, in other words, could be a reluctance on the part of the country’s top judges to dictate the amount that qualifies for personal possession—in this case 30 grams—to lawmakers as they consider how to proceed with a cannabis legalization bill.

The legislature, also despite court order, has only advanced the issue at a snail’s pace. They were supposed to finalize this last December. Instead, the federal process has repeatedly stalled at a federal level. That said, the Mexican Congress could vote to legalize this year.

The Mexican President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador remains ambiguously hesitant about the entire issue.

An Ongoing Clash Between the Courts and the Legislature

The battle in Mexico at the highest legal level has been going on since 2015, when the court ruled that sections of the country’s health law were invalid, by de facto legalizing the cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis. Last year the court also ruled that bans on personal consumption were a guaranteed personal liberty. However the earlier decision did not consider the 5 gram decriminalization measure in place since 2009. People in possession of larger quantities still face a prison sentence of up to three years.

That is what Mexican advocates hoped this decision would solve as the legislature slowly moves forward on passing legislation.

Could the Mexican Government Approve Recreational Use This Year?

The decision comes at an interesting time, literally five weeks after Israel decriminalized use. Mexico has been on the “cusp of legalization” at this point for seven years. Presumably, however, if either the United States or Germany passes legalization measures, it will also galvanize Mexico to finally decide its cannabis users’ fate by formal law rather than judicial decisions at the highest level.

This means that 2022 could be a record year for legalizing countries—and as a result, become a tipping point for global recreational reform.

It is certainly going to be an interesting and intriguing 8 months on a global basis.

The post Mexican Supreme Court Issues Vague Support for Ending Prohibition appeared first on High Times.

Mexico Cannabis Update: Another Missed Deadline and Political Nepotism

Mexico has sure been on a bumpy road in its effort to legalize cannabis. Led mainly by Supreme Court rulings, Mexico has inched forward, though not always in the expected ways. For this episode of Mexico cannabis update, let’s take a look at another missed deadline, and ex-president Fox’s foray into the cannabis market.

Mexico’s Congress sure it’s making it easy, and the market that should already be flourishing, hasn’t even started. Hopefully my next Mexico cannabis update will include legislation to officially legalize the industry. We’ll have to wait and see. We’re on top of everything going on in this industry, and working hard to make sure you get important stories. Sign up for the THC Weekly Newsletter to keep informed, as well as for access to premium deals on flowers, vapes, edibles, and much more! We also offer great prices on cannabinoids, like HHC-O, Delta 8Delta 9 THCDelta-10 THCTHCOTHCVTHCP HHC, which won’t break the bank. You can find them in our “Best-of” lists. Go ahead and enjoy responsibly!


Mexico and cannabis legalization

To call it a ‘bumpy road’ is a bit of an understatement at this point, and Mexico’s government should be embarrassed of itself for how it’s handling legalizing marijuana. This episode of Mexico cannabis update features a new low for the governance of the country. But first, let’s go over how we got to where we are now.

In 2018, the last of five consecutive cases passed through the Supreme Court, all related to the personal use of cannabis, and all ruled on in the same way: that not allowing personal use and cultivation, is unconstitutional. So though Mexico’s written laws state that cannabis is illegal for recreational purposes, the five consecutive rulings set off ‘jurisprudencia’, whereby the Supreme Court verdicts override written law, to become the new law. This has to be the case, because jurisprudencia prevents a lower court from ruling against an individual in a personal use case, as that would mean ruling against the Supreme Court. And this creates a massive discrepancy since laws on paper still give police the right to arrest people for crimes for which a court can’t find them guilty.

Problem is, the Supreme Court is more about big moves, and doesn’t worry about the intricate ins and outs of legislation, that’s for Congress. This means that the rulings made for a direct command to Congress, to update the written laws in order to be in concert with the court rulings. Without this, the country stays in a gray area in terms of personal legalities, but also in terms of production and setting up a regulated industry.

The government missed four deadlines to do this, first, a year after the last court ruling, in December 2019. Then in April 2020, December, 2020, and April 2021. In all cases but April 2021, the government asked for an extension, and in all cases, it was granted by the Supreme Court. Upon missing the April 2021 deadline, since the government didn’t ask for an extension, it put the ball back in the Supreme Court’s court to do something. Though the Supreme Court could have just waited, it didn’t. Let’s remember, it gave the government a directive, and that directive was blatantly not followed. It’s hard to maintain power when no one listens, right? So the Supreme Court did what anyone would if they want to retain their power, it went ahead with dropping laws of prohibition.

On June 28th, 2021, the Court voted to drop the laws of prohibition in regards to personal use and personal cultivation. The vote went 8-3, and the laws were dropped. This had no impact on any other part of cannabis law, and came with none of the stipulations or regulations of a piece of legislation. It just merely pushed things along, giving Congress that much more time.

The start of legal production

This left Mexico in the position of having legal private and personal use, as well as personal cultivation rights, but did nothing about a regulated market, social or public smoking, production, or anything else. What came next was not from the government doing its job, but yet another Supreme Court ruling that pushed things forward yet another step.

In a previous Mexico cannabis update I reported on the Supreme Court ruling of December 1st, 2021. The unappealable ruling, was that it was unconstitutional to bar the production of low-THC cannabis (up to 1% THC). Much like the 2018 ruling, which made the requirement for Congress to write up corresponding legislation, this ruling put the requirement of implementation on Mexico’s Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS).

The case was brought on by the company Xebra Mexico, the Mexican branch of the Canadian-based Xebra. The case was not about a regulated market, but rather solely about production for medical and scientific purposes. Xebra used the five consecutive rulings that brought on jurisprudencia, and the dropping of the prohibition laws last June, to challenge the ban on commercial production.

Realistically, how could Xebra Mexico not have won? If the Supreme Court didn’t rule in Xebra’s favor, it would show inconsistency with its own ruling. Sure, there are no rules to govern an industry, but that shouldn’t mean that the people of a country shouldn’t have access to the laws and legal rights provided to them.

Mexico Supreme Court

Xebra has announced plans for a commercialized market, but for now the laws don’t exist. If nothing changes soon, Xebra will be in court again if it wants to actually sell products in Mexico. And at the rate things are going, that might be the only way to get the market open. Of course, it could just be producing for exportation back to Canada or somewhere else, but regardless of where it ends up, it can now be legally produced in Mexico.

Mexico cannabis update – what’s new?

Since the ruling in favor of Xebra, there have been some other happenings to go over in this Mexico cannabis update. The first, is yet another missed deadline by Congress. The end of the sitting period in the Senate, as in, when the season ended, was December 15th, 2021. This deadline wasn’t a specifically set deadline like the last ones in terms of getting the legislation done. But it was a deadline for getting a vote by the end of the year, and the Senate never took its vote.

Last March the Lower House did approve a bill, but that bill was never voted on by the Senate. Called the Federal Law for the Regulation of Cannabis, the Senate decided there were too many inconsistencies, at least 17 that it counted. This included, apparently, the fear of a loophole that would permit unlimited sales in terms of quantity, which is arguably funny in that that’s already how black markets operate. You can buy as much as you want.

While my belief holds firm that fear of cartel backlash is the bigger reason for this inability for the government to get its stuff together, (it’s good to keep in mind just how dangerous it can be in Mexico for politicians), the reason why is less important than the fact it simply didn’t get done, leaving Mexico still without written legislation for a legal cannabis industry.

Mexico cannabis update – what else of interest?

What would a new drug industry be, if not a chance for former government officials to exploit it through their government nepotism? Well, that’s exactly what’s happening in Mexico. Vicente Fox, Mexico’s former president from 2000-2006, is making sure he gets a big old slice of the pie, and that he gets his first.

It was announced last week that, Paradise, a cannabis head-shop, will mount an aggressive expansion campaign including upping its current tally of 70 stores across 28 states, to 200 stores across all states, by the end of 2022. The stores currently sell the likes of CBD, hemp oil, and smoking paraphernalia like bongs, pipes, grinders, papers, etc. Paradise already has locations in places like Monterrey (its birth city), Mexico City, Juárez, Saltillo, Mazatlán, Culiacán, Aguascalientes, Pachuca, Tijuana, Guadalajara, Playa del Carmen, and Querétaro, with San Luis Potosí city on the way.

cannabis

Paradise is co-owned by Fox along with Roberto Palazuelos, an actor, Marcus Dantus, and company founders Fernando Carcamo, Fernando Espinobarros and Guillermo Palau. Though no regulation exists at the moment to sell actual cannabis out of these shops (with the exception of CBD), they are certainly positioned well to be the first ones to do so when legislation is finally passed.

Fox, for his part, has been a strong advocate for cannabis legalization for quite some time. Fox is also a board member of Khiron, a string of Canadian-based cannabis wellness clinics, with operations in many Latin American and European countries. What he’s doing with Paradise isn’t bad at all, and it helps promote the industry. But there is something about a former president, who stands to be one of the first legal pot sellers, that does make questionable whether there’s a bit of government nepotism going on. This, of course, if you look at the Mexican government as one big family, and Fox as a member of it, using that family connection to get first dibs in the cannabis industry.

Conclusion

Will cannabis be legalized in Mexico this year? Certainly hard to say. As of this Mexico cannabis update, the country remains in a legal stalemate, but this can’t last forever. Begrudgingly or not, Congress has to pass something, and hopefully that something will be passed by year’s end (or preferably, before that).

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advice, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

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The post Mexico Cannabis Update: Another Missed Deadline and Political Nepotism appeared first on CBD Testers.

How Many States Must Change Cannabis Laws, Before Federal Government Is Invalidated?

The state vs federal government issue has been raging on in the whole cannabis debate, since states started breaking with federal prohibition. With 18 states now legalized for recreational cannabis, (and more on the way), the question now becomes, how many states must change their cannabis laws before the prohibition mandate of the federal government is invalidated?

How many states must change their cannabis laws before a federal government mandate can be invalidated? Hard to say, but luckily, this question does nothing to stop the burgeoning cannabis industry where it has already been legalized. And a growing industry means more and better options for you. Case in point, delta-8 THC. This alternate THC compound doesn’t produce anxiety like delta-9, and provides a clear-headed, energetic high. Preferable for many users. Check out our array of delta-8 THC, delta 10, THCV & THC-O deals, and be glad that the constitution does not actually prohibit cannabis.

Federal laws vs states’ rights

One of the tenants of the US constitution is that the federal government does not get full and complete power, and that each individual state has the right to ‘states’ rights’. These laws, enacted by individual states, do not have to match with the federal government, and can be in direct violation of federal law. The cannabis issue is one of the best high-profile examples of inconsistency between federal and state laws.

However, this doesn’t always hold, and we know this. If the US Supreme Court makes a ruling to legalize something like abortion, no state has the ability to illegalize it, though they can institute a lot of measures that make receiving one difficult. When looking at a subject like gay marriage, it almost looks like states can go against the Supreme Court ruling of 2015 which legalized gay marriage federally. Almost.

But a closer look makes clear that though many states still have outdated laws on their books – and refuse to change them – that these laws are not actually enforceable. That’s because the same-sex marriage law, much like the law legalizing abortion, came from Supreme Court rulings, not from legislative measures. This is how it works: the federal government has something called the Supremacy Clause: Article VI, Clause 2 of the US Constitution. It says:

federal government

“All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be Required as a Qualification To any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

This sounds weird, because we do have states’ rights…right? States’ rights are given in the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution, and are stated as follows:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

What this amendment actually makes painfully clear, is that individual states only have the ability for separate rights, if it doesn’t contradict with the Constitution. This is why when the Supreme Court makes a ruling, it must be followed, because the Supreme Court is a constitutional court, whose job it is to interpret the Constitution. Since a state cannot actually go up against the constitution, it must abide by Supreme Court rulings. This is also why, though many states still have laws against gay marriage, and even refuse to remove them in some cases, they don’t actually count for anything if someone wants to sue their state, because the 2015 Supreme Court ruling will back them.

Is cannabis in the constitution?

No, of course not! Not one mention is made to cannabis in the US Constitution, and realistically, at the time the Constitution was written, if cannabis was mentioned, it would likely have been to promote grow laws. There would have been a 0% chance at that time in history that a federal law would’ve been made to prohibit cannabis in any way at all.

cannabis laws

Cannabis is therefore not specifically ruled by the constitution, but simply by legislative measures. Measures that themselves, can be judged as either constitutional or unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Should that ever happen, then whatever law coming out of it would be binding for all states. As of yet, that has not happened (with the exception of minor and highly indirect rulings which don’t make a full judgement on legality). Therefore, individual states have the ability to set their own independent cannabis laws, in spite of the US federal government ban.

So, what would happen if an individual case about the constitutionality of banning cannabis came to the US Supreme Court? If the court ruled that such a ban was unconstitutional, then every state would be obligated to allow recreational cannabis. If, on the other hand, the Supreme Court made a direct ruling saying that the use of cannabis is unconstitutional, then every state would be obligated to illegalize cannabis. None of this has happened yet.

How many states must change cannabis laws before a federal government mandate is invalidated?

So, now we know that the federal government does trump individual states so long as the law in question is backed-up by the US Constitution. And we know that anything not held specifically by the Constitution is up for decision by individual states. The question now becomes, with a growing number of states changing their legal doctrines to allow medical or recreational cannabis, or decriminalization measures (over 80% of the country), all of which go directly against the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, how many states must change their cannabis laws, before the federal government mandate of cannabis being illegal, gets invalidated. Basically, when does the federal government, have to give it up?

Can it be that all states legalize, and yet the federal government still says its illegal? Wouldn’t that make the federal government look incredibly weak if not one state was willing to follow its doctrines? I imagine at a certain point this aspect will be what changes things. The US government won’t want to look horribly weak, so at a certain point, its likely to change tack completely, and go in the other direction. Realistically, it will have to.

The Mexican example

At the end of 2018, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that cannabis prohibition laws were unconstitutional. This was based on a concept called jurisprudencia in which the legislative government is overridden by five consecutive Supreme Court rulings that rule in the same manner. When this happened, the Supreme Court issued a directive to the government to update the written laws.

After dawdling like babies and asking for multiple extensions over 2.5 years of time, the Mexican Congress finally dropped the ball completely at the end of April, 2021, and not only did not provide a law at the deadline, but did not ask for an extension, thereby allowing the Supreme Court the ability to officially change laws itself. And it did, on June 28th, 2021, the Court officially dropped the laws of prohibition against personal recreational consumption and cultivation, making Mexico the 4th legalized country.

mexico cannabis legalization

Why was the Supreme Court growing so impatient? Well, that’s automatically fair, because the government was meant to be doing a job that it wasn’t doing, but on a more practical level, if the Supreme Court can’t give a directive to the legislature, and have it followed, it erodes the power of the court. The Mexican Supreme Court had to legalize, to make sure it was understood that when it gives a directive, it must be followed.

This example is different from the US in that no Supreme Court ruling has been made in the US. Where they are similar, is in the idea of a government body being able to maintain control by having its laws followed. In Mexico, the Supreme Court ultimately dropped the prohibition laws because it had made a ruling that wasn’t being followed, and this threatened its power, and the power of jurisprudencia. In the US, the question is, at what point is the federal mandate invalidated by enough states going against it? With a caveat of, what does that do to the power of the federal government, if every state is against it?

While it could take longer for all states to adopt recreational policies, over ¾ have a recreational legalization, medical legalization, or decriminalization measure, all of which go against the US federal government. While medical legalizations and decriminalization measures are one thing, recreational legalizations really go right in the face of the US government in a more profound way. And there are plenty more on the way, making this a very pertinent question.

What’s the answer?

As far as I can tell, there isn’t a direct one, or at least, not one that’s outright and specific enough to be easily found in online research. I will put this question to constitutional lawyers, and see if I can offer readers a better answer in the future. It is quite possible that there is no specific measure to govern this, and that case law would actually have to be introduced to set some kind of boundary or limit, by which a federal mandate is invalidated by states not following along.

The thing to keep in mind, is Mexico, and the idea of a government, or government branch, not wanting to look weak. How weak would the US government look if every one of its 50 states and five territories enacted contradictory laws? And what could the federal government realistically do if it allowed anything to get to this point? How could it enforce its laws?

On the other hand, after upholding it for so long, giving in is a massive concession that comes with its own amount of hurt pride and general saltiness for representatives who have pushed so hard to keep these prohibition laws intact. Pride can be very destructive, and it can lead people to make bad decisions, even in the face of their own failure.

Conclusion

The question concerning how many states must change their cannabis laws before the federal government prohibition mandate is invalidated, is one that we’ll have our answer to soon enough. It’s quite possible it will simply come in the form of the government realizing at a certain number of states, that laws must change, and then allowing it to happen. It could come through a Supreme Court ruling. And, unless I find something to say otherwise, this could all come to a strange head if all states do adopt contradicting policies.

For right now, the federal government still has enough followers to keep the law how it is. In another five years, the same thing probably can’t be said. After a certain point, if the government wants to maintain its power (or illusion of it), it must legalize cannabis for recreational use.

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DisclaimerHi, I’m a researcher and writer. I’m not a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson. All information in my articles is sourced and referenced, and all opinions stated are mine. I am not giving anyone advise, and though I am more than happy to discuss topics, should someone have a further question or concern, they should seek guidance from a relevant professional.

The post How Many States Must Change Cannabis Laws, Before Federal Government Is Invalidated? appeared first on CBD Testers.