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Washington Court Says Dormant Commerce Doesn't Apply To Pot

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A Washington state federal judge has denied an effort to block the state's cannabis social equity program from awarding retail licenses, saying that the dormant commerce clause argument advanced by an out-of-state litigant is likely to fail since pot is federally illegal.

In an order Friday, U.S. District Judge Tiffany M. Cartwright noted that the social equity scheme was intended to benefit Washingtonians who were directly impacted by cannabis prohibition, and that the balance of equities did not favor bringing the program to a halt.

The decision acknowledges that jurists have reached different findings on the issue of whether the dormant commerce clause, which generally prohibits states from enacting policies that interfere with interstate commerce, should apply to federally unlawful marijuana.

"While recognizing that courts around the country have split on the question, this Court concludes that Peridot is unlikely to succeed on the merits because the dormant Commerce Clause does not protect a right to participate in an interstate market that Congress has declared illegal," the court wrote.



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