Higher Law: Kavanaugh on Cannabis | Cannabis Bar Chooses New Leaders | Who Got the Work
Combing Brett Kavanaugh’s records for clues about his thinking on cannabis. Plus: the National Cannabis Bar Association elects new board leaders.
Welcome back to Higher Law, our weekly briefing on all things cannabis. I’m Cheryl Miller, reporting for Law.com from Sacramento.
You may have heard that President Trump nominated a new U.S. Supreme Court justice on Monday. This week we try to suss out Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s views on marijuana. Spoiler alert: It’s not easy. Plus, the National Cannabis Bar Association has new leadership. And scroll down to see Who Got the Work.
Kavanaugh on Cannabis
In 12 years on the D.C, Circuit Court, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has left a long paper trail of opinions to dissect. Unfortunately, perhaps, for judicial sleuths, that trail seems to largely go cold around issues related to marijuana legalization.
While we don’t know Kavanaugh’s precise thinking on the topic, we do have one case to consider. Kavanaugh was part of a March 2013 per curiam order denying an en banc rehearing in Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration. In that case, a three-judge panel (it didn’t include Kavanaugh) upheld the DEA’s decision not to reclassify marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act to make medical use easier.
“I wouldn’t have liked my chances” if the case was reheard before Kavanaugh and the other circuit judges, said Joseph Elford, an Oakland attorney who in 2013 was counsel to Americans for Safe Access. “I think the full D.C. Circuit at the time would have affirmed.”
At the start, Elford drew what he thought was a potentially favorable panel for oral arguments in October 2012: Judges Karen LeCraft Henderson, Merrick Garland and Harry Edwards. He and the other petitioners cited more than 100 studies demonstrating health benefits from controlled marijuana use.
But the court ultimately deferred to the DEA and its “eminently reasonable” determination that “well-controlled studies” showing marijuana’s medical efficacy did not exist. The panel denied the petition. The U.S. Supreme Court later declined to take the case.
Elford has mixed feelings about how a new descheduling effort may fare before a Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh. While acknowledging that marijuana has moved beyond cut-and-dry Democrat and Republican politics in recent years, “I can’t say I’d like our chances” with a more conservative high court, he said.
“I think the better chance is probably through Congress now,” Elford said.
Cannabis Bar Elects New Leaders
The National Cannabis Bar Association has elected a new board of directors. Board members are: Matthew Abel of Cannabis Counsel; Christopher Davis, the NCBA’s executive director; Omar Figueroa of the Law Offices of Omar Figueroa; Shelli Williams Hayes, chief compliance officer for American Standard Hemp; Joanna Hossack, associate at Clark Neubert; Cátia Kossovsky, owner of Kossovsky Law and counsel to Hoban Law Group; Shabnam Malek of Brand & Branch; Amy McDougal of CLEAResources; Courtney Moran of Earth Law; Lauren Ruddick of Hiller; Nevada state Sen. Richard “Tick” Segerblom; Mary Shapiro of Evoke Law; and Katy Young of Ad Astra Law Group.
The three-year-old bar has more than 250 members. The NCBA’s annual Cannabis Law Institute will be held in Washington, D.C. in September.
Who Got the Work
- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has named Dominique Mendiola as the state’s director of marijuana coordination. An alumna of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Mendiola was deputy director of the state Department of Revenue’s marijuana enforcement division. She replaces Mark Bolton, who returned to the Denver office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in the spring.
- Los Angeles-based cannabis firm Margolin & Lawrence has opened a new office in Oakland, Calif., which will be led by of counsel Mia Mitchell. Mitchell previously worked as a corporate counsel for Wedbush Securities Inc. and as an associate at Jones Walker.
In the Weeds
> A New Jersey workers’ compensation judge ordered Freehold Township to foot the bill for an injured worker’s medical marijuana. Judge Lionel Simon made his ruling on June 28 over the objections of the township’s insurance carrier. My colleague Charles Toutant writes that this is at least the second time a judge in New Jersey has ruled in favor of an injured employee seeking medical cannabis. [New Jersey Law Journal]
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Published: July 13, 2018
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News