Lawsuit Seeks to End Connecticut’s Cannabis Programs

A lawsuit filed last week in Connecticut Superior Court is challenging cannabis legalization in the state and asking a judge to stop cannabis sales, CT News Junkie reports. The complaint was filed by the Stamford Neighborhoods Coalition and more than a dozen individual plaintiffs and names Mayor Caroline Simmons and the city’s Zoning Board as defendants. 

The group is seeking an injunction to ban cannabis business operations in Stamford and the state as a whole on the grounds that the 2021 law legalizing cannabis possession and commercial sales was preempted by the federal Controlled Substances Act.

In the complaint, attorney David Herz argued that “Under federal law anyone involved in the growing, manufacturing, distribution or dispensing, or possession with intent to manufacture, grow, distribute or dispense marijuana is marijuana trafficking subject to federal prosecution under the federal Controlled Substances Act.”

“It is therefore unconstitutional and can not be relied upon by the City of Stamford or its Zoning Board to permit the illegal enterprise that is every Cannabis business.” — Herz, in the complaint, via CT News Junkie

The lawsuit also claims that the social equity provisions in the cannabis law violate an equal rights provision of the state constitution. The law created a Social Equity Council intended to ensure that the retail market benefited the Connecticut communities most impacted by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition. The complaint refers to the creation of the council as a “scheme” that is “impermissibly selected based on race.”

“The purpose of the Social Equity Counsel is to entitle a certain set of people to exclusive public emoluments,” the lawsuit argues.

A Congressional Research Service report published in March found that while the federal government has taken a largely hands-off approach to cannabis reforms enacted by the states, “The Department of Justice (DOJ) has nonetheless reaffirmed that marijuana growth, possession, and trafficking remain crimes under federal law irrespective of states’ marijuana laws.”

“Federal law enforcement has generally focused its efforts on criminal networks involved in the illicit marijuana trade,” the report says.

Adult-use cannabis sales in Connecticut reached $13 million in July. 

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Lawsuit Seeks to End Connecticut’s Cannabis Programs

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