Cannabis Companies Launch New Constitutional Challenge to Federal Prohibition

A group of cannabis businesses have filed a fresh federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the national ban on marijuana. The case, Canna Provisions, Inc. et al v. Garland, is being pursued by the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP on behalf of several plaintiffs operating in the legal Massachusetts cannabis market.

The plaintiffs, including multi-state operator Verano Holdings Corp, allege that the outdated Controlled Substances Act (CSA) has hampered their operations by blocking access to banking services and subjecting them to threats of federal prosecution. They argue the CSA’s prohibition on intrastate cannabis activities violated their constitutional rights.

The new lawsuit directly challenges the 2005 Supreme Court ruling in Gonzales v. Raich that upheld the CSA’s ban on home-grown cannabis even in states with legal medical marijuana programs at the time. It contends the factual and legal landscape has dramatically shifted in the intervening years as the majority of U.S. states have legalized some form of marijuana use.

The allegations state Congress originally intended the CSA to stamp out illegal interstate cannabis trafficking, but most states now provide regulated intrastate access that has reduced illicit market demand crossing state lines. As such, maintaining the blanket federal prohibition lacking any rational basis unjustifiably intrudes on individual liberties, according to the plaintiffs.

This lawsuit comes as the Biden administration has taken tentative steps reconsidering cannabis policy. Last August, federal health officials recommended reclassifying marijuana as a less restrictive Schedule III controlled substance, though drug enforcement agencies have yet to act on it. Vice President Kamala Harris has also recently hosted discussions on federal cannabis reform.

By launching this constitutional challenge, the cannabis companies aim to catalyze major changes ending the federal-state conflict over marijuana legalization once and for all. The case could have far-reaching implications for the burgeoning national cannabis industry.


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