Cannabis and District Courts: Are Those Courthouse Doors Closed Too?


By Mark Salzberg on January 31, 2022 EmailTweetLikeLinkedIn We have written many times over the past few years about how the bankruptcy courts are off-limits to state-legalized cannabis businesses.  This past year brought no new relief to the cannabis industry, and the doors to the bankruptcy courts remain shut.  Are the other federal courts off-limits as well?  A recent district court decision from the Southern District of California sheds some light on this issue, and indicates that the district courts are at least partially open to participants in legal cannabis businesses. Factual Background The facts of Indian Hills Holdings, LLC v. Frye are relatively straightforward.  Plaintiff Indian Hills Holdings (“IHH”), Construction & Design Professional Corp. (“CDP”) and its principal Christopher Frye (“Frye” and, together with CDP, the “Defendants”) entered into a contract whereby IHH paid Defendants to purchase Cultivation “Adult” Extreme Cubes (the “Cubes”).  Defendants in turn contracted with ICT Centurion Investments, LLC (“ICT”) to purchase the Cubes.   The Cubes were marketed as a “fully integrated growing container system” used in indoor cannabis cultivation.  When ICT sold the Cubes to another party, Defendants were unable to deliver the Cubes to IHH.  Defendants refused to return the money, and IHH sued, asserting breach of contract, unjust enrichment and fraud claims. A default judgment was entered against CDP for failing to respond to IHH’s complaint.  Frye, however, filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing in part that IHH did not have standing to bring its claims.  Noting that Frye only “cursorily” raised the standing issue and that the “issue is a complex one”, the court reframed Frye’s argument as follows: The contract is illegal under the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 801, et seq.(the “CSA”); Federal district courts will not enforce contracts that violate federal law; Because federal district courts will not enforce contracts that violate…

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Source : Cannabis and District Courts: Are Those Courthouse Doors Closed Too?

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