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…
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