The Exhaustion of Marijuana Legalization
On May 30, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit —in an opinion delivered by the eminent Guido Calabresi— offered the cannabis industry a glimmer of hope in its pursuit of the federal legalization of marijuana. In the case of Washington et al. v. Barr et al., a set of plaintiffs challenged the DEA’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”). Most courts, including the SDNY (where the case originated), have had a general tendency to dismiss such cases, citing the preeminent precedent established in Gonzales v. Raich, which confirmed the supremacy of the federal government’s prohibition of marijuana over state legalization. The Second Circuit, in Washington, stopped short of dismissing the appeal from the SDNY and set up the opportunity for a potential challenge to the federal ban in the near future.
While the plaintiffs in Washington surmounted an incredible obstacle, by avoiding outright dismissal, the Court did not go so far as to provide them with the relief they sought. Instead, Calabresi and his peers opted to concur with the SDNY’s ruling that the plaintiffs had failed to fully exhaust their available alternative remedies … Keep reading