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Judge Casts Doubt on Legal Battle to Overturn Ruling on Federal Prohibition of Cannabis

Efforts by four leading US cannabis companies to overturn the country-wide prohibition of cannabis have been thrown into doubt by a federal judge.

Massachusetts District Judge, Mark Mastoianni, said that arguments a lower-court judge could ‘step in and change’ a Supreme Court ruling from 2005 was ‘splitting the hair’, Reuters reported.

He added that even if he accepted all the arguments from the companies’ lawyer, prominent litigator David Boies, ‘it’s for the Supreme Court to change’.

Boies was hired by a collective of companies led by Verano Holdings Corp, alongside Massachusetts based businesses Canna Provisions, Wiseacre Farm, and Treevit CEO Gyasi Sellers.

He was tasked with revisiting a 2005 Supreme Court decision in the case of Gonzales v. Raich in which it was ruled that federal prohibition must be maintained under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) so as to avoid interstate commerce.

In the case, which was submitted last October, they argue that ongoing federal cannabis prohibition lacks a rational basis, especially considering the increasing number of states legalizing and regulating marijuana.

“I think there can be no doubt that the predicates of that decision no longer exist,” Boies said.

“You no longer have this comprehensive, unitary attempt to totally eradicate interstate commerce.”

While the lawyer admitted contracting a Supreme Court ruling was a ‘big step’, he argued that he was not asking for the decision to be overruled, but to conclude that its decision should no longer be applied.

Boies also cited a statement from 2021 in which Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a different case in which he said the 2005 ruling’s reasoning may no longer apply and that the ban ‘may no longer be necessary or proper.’

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