US Circuit Court Ruling Demonstrates Cannabis Businesses’ Constitutional Rights, Attorney Says

A First Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled 2-1 Aug. 17 to uphold a Maine federal judge’s August 2021 decision that the state’s residency requirement for cannabis business owners is unconstitutional, Law360 reports. An attorney for the plaintiff-appellee says the decision demonstrates that U.S. cannabis businesses are afforded constitutional protections.

Maine’s law required medical cannabis owners to be state residents, but U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen ruled last year that the residency requirement violates the U.S. Constitution’s dormant commerce clause.

In the decision to uphold Torresen’s ruling, the 2-1 circuit panel majority stated Maine cannot restrict business ownership to Maine residents because the dormant commerce clause prevents the state from being able to do so, Law360 reports.

The dormant commerce clause “refers to the prohibition, implicit in the commerce clause, against states passing that discriminates against or excessively burdens interstate commerce,” according to Cornell Law School.

The Aug. 17 decision marks a success for Acreage Holdings Inc. and its subsidiaries, plaintiffs Wellness Connection of Maine and High Street Capital Partners LLC, following High Street’s efforts to purchase all the equity in Wellness Connection, according to Law360. (The lawsuit also follows a similar development from 2020, Law360 pointed out. In May of that year, Maine cannabis regulators decided to stop

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