The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday urged a Massachusetts federal judge to dismiss a legal challenge to the federal prohibition on marijuana, arguing that courts have consistently upheld the federal government's ban on pot and rejected previous efforts to overturn it.
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The DOJ also said that the plaintiff companies — which include numerous entities engaged in state-legal medical and adult-use cannabis sales in Massachusetts — lacked standing to challenge the federal Controlled Substances Act, since they could not trace any injury directly to the law.
"Neither Plaintiffs' contention that they are harmed by other federal laws and policies whose constitutionality is not challenged here, nor Plaintiffs' allegations that some third parties have independently chosen not to transact with them, suffice to provide Plaintiffs with standing to challenge the CSA," the government wrote in its motion to dismiss.
The government said that the complaint, rather than alleging injury from CSA enforcement, argued just the opposite — that there was little risk of federal prosecution given the Justice Department's current posture of de facto non-enforcement of marijuana laws against state-regulated entities.
The DOJ rebuffed the cannabis sellers' argument that the federal ban on cannabis created other collateral injuries, such as precluding them from applying for Small Business Administration loans or accessing public housing, noting that those policies were not challenged in the lawsuit.