Oregon Firm Files Lawsuit Challenging State Laws Against Cannabis Exports

A federal lawsuit filed by an Oregon firm seeks to dispute the constitutionality of state laws prohibiting cannabis exports and imports between legalized states.

Full story after the jump.

An Oregon-based cannabis wholesaler has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state laws prohibiting cannabis exports and imports from other states, Marijuana Moment reports. In a letter sent by attorneys representing Jefferson Packing House, LLC to Gov. Kate Brown (D), Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) Director Steven Marks, the attorneys wrote that they “recognize that marijuana is still illegal under federal law and that this lawsuit will not change that fact.” 

“However, we believe that the State of Oregon should be fully aligned with supporting its local marijuana industry,” the letter states, “and therefore that Oregon law should no longer prohibit the export of marijuana to other states.” 

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S District Court for the District of Oregon, notes that Congress is given the “exclusive authority” to “regulate commerce between the States” and under the dormant Commerce Clause, states “are prohibited from enacting laws regulating interstate commerce because it is the exclusive purview of Congress.”

Recently, the commerce clause was used by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to justify striking down Maine’s residency requirement to own a medical cannabis license. Experts believe that case may have wider implications for interstate cannabis trade, the report says. 

Another reason given for the lawsuit is that barring interstate cannabis commerce “harms not only Oregon growers, processors, and wholesalers, but also non-residents, who are denied access to the high-quality marijuana products created in Oregon unless they physically travel to Oregon,” the report says. 

The lawsuit notes the longstanding view by the Department of Justice that interstate cannabis trade is a prosecutorial offense and, as a result, many states have explicitly banned the practice to protect themselves from federal interference in their adult-use cannabis markets. However, the lawsuit says these laws “discriminate against interstate commerce by nakedly prohibiting such commerce, without any legitimate, nonprotectionist purpose, and are therefore prohibited by the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

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