Remember the Colorado “cake artist” who refused to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple in 2012? Well, after taking his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and winning a procedural victory this year, he’s still having issues, according to a new lawsuit filed on Tuesday.
Part of the problem is that people keep requesting that he make marijuana and Satan-themed baked goods, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips said. And he’s blaming Colorado officials for allegedly targeting him and creating a hostile environment for his family and business.
Phillips has made it patently clear that he won’t design cakes that conflict with his religious views—namely his belief that being gay or transgender is at odds with Christian values—but that also apparently extends to “controlled substances like marijuana and alcohol,” according to the complaint.
In the year after the Supreme Court announced it’d take Phillips’s case, he “received other requests for cakes celebrating Satan, featuring Satanic symbols, depicting sexually explicit materials, and promoting marijuana use.”
Via US District Court for District of Colorado
The complaint cites a specific example of someone calling his shop for an admittedly esoteric occasion:
“The caller asked Phillips to create a ‘birthday’ cake for Satan. The caller requested that the cake feature a red and black theme and an image of Satan smoking marijuana. Phillips declined to create that cake because it included designs that would have expressed messages in violation of his religious beliefs.”
The complaint doesn’t specify which tenet of Christianity explicitly prohibits the depiction of cannabis. But in any case, this is far from the first time that marijuana policy and religious rights have tangoed.
In fact, a campaign opposing a medical marijuana initiative in Utah cited the Supreme Court baker case ruling in a lawsuit also filed this week, which alleges that one provision of the measure would infringe upon religious liberties.
Because the Utah measure includes language that prevents landlords from discriminating against medical cannabis cardholders, the group said Mormons would encounter situations where they’d be forced to rent to people who engage in activities against their religion.
“In the United States of America, members of all religions, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have a constitutional right to exercise their religious beliefs,” the complaint states, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. “This includes the right not to consort with, be around, or do business with people engaging in activities which their religion finds repugnant.”
“The State of Utah is attempting to compel the speech of Utah landowners by suppressing their ability to speak out against cannabis use and consumption by only renting to tenants who do not possess or consume cannabis and who support their viewpoints in opposition against cannabis possession and consumption.”
Activists are skeptical that argument will hold up in court.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Baker Who Denied Same-Sex Couple Now Complaining About Marijuana-Themed Cake Requests
Photo by Ronmar Lacamiento from Pexels
President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Brett Kavanaugh, will shape the country’s legal system for decades to come if he is confirmed by the Senate. But how would the federal judge rule in cases dealing with marijuana legalization and drug policy reform?
When it comes to cannabis and the right of states to set their own laws, it’s really anybody’s guess at this point. Kavanaugh doesn’t appear to have weighed in on the issue specifically, but it’s possible he’ll be asked about his views during confirmation hearings by pro-legalization Judiciary Committee members like Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) or Kamala Harris (D-CA).
That said, a brief overview of the nominee’s judicial record reveals someone who routinely defers to the regulatory authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has for decades refused to change marijuana’s restrictive status under federal law. For example, Kavanaugh sided with the majority in a 2007 case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which determined that terminally ill patients don’t have a constitutional right to access drugs that haven’t received FDA approval.
That could set up an interesting debate if there are any legal challenges to a new “right to try” law that Trump signed in May. The policy allows seriously ill patients to access unapproved drugs— and based on the criteria, cannabis may qualify.
Kavanaugh also upheld the authority of the FDA in a 2013 case, STAT News reported. He argued that the federal agency’s procedure for approving or denying expedited approval of medical devices should be respected.
“A court is ill-equipped to second-guess that kind of agency scientific judgment.”
A 2012 case concerning drug testing—for which Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion—is also revealing. The federal judge argued that mandating drug testing of government employees at specialized residential schools for at-risk youth doesn’t violate the Fourth Amendment.
“A residential school program for at-risk youth who have a history of drug problems can turn south quickly if the schools do not maintain some level of discipline,” he wrote. “To maintain discipline, the schools must ensure that the employees who work there do not themselves become part of the problem. That is especially true when, as here, the employees are one of the few possible conduits for drugs to enter the schools.”
Kavanaugh said that because the drug testing program is “narrowly targeted” and the government “has a strong and indeed compelling interest in maintaining a drug-free workforce,” the mandate doesn’t amount to a violation of the constitutional right against unreasonable searches and seizures.
Though these cases don’t provide an especially comprehensive window into the SCOTUS nominee’s views on marijuana specifically, they do appear to reflect a pattern: Kavanaugh puts his faith in the FDA, which has denied that marijuana has any proven medical benefits, and his interpretation of the limitations of the Fourth Amendment seems to stand in contrast to drug policy reform advocates.
Analysis: GOP Congress Has Blocked Dozens Of Marijuana Amendments
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Where Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Stands On Marijuana And Drug Policy
Under a federal circuit court ruling, physicians in the U.S. have generally enjoyed the right to discuss medical marijuana with their patients without fear of being punished by the government. In a ruling on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed those protections.
In a case concerning a California law that requires clinics that treat pregnant women to provide patients with certain notices concerning the availability of abortion services, the court wrote:
“The dangers associated with content-based regulations of speech are also present in the context of professional speech. As with other kinds of speech, regulating the content of professionals’ speech ‘pose[s] the inherent risk that the Government seeks not to advance a legitimate regulatory goal, but to suppress unpopular ideas or information.’ Take medicine, for example. ‘Doctors help patients make deeply personal decisions, and their candor is crucial.’ Throughout history, governments have ‘manipulat[ed] the content of doctor-patient discourse’ to increase state power and suppress minorities:
“‘For example, during the Cultural Revolution, Chinese physicians were dispatched to the countryside to convince peasants to use contraception. In the 1930s, the Soviet government expedited completion of a construction project on the Siberian railroad by ordering doctors to both reject requests for medical leave from work and conceal this government order from their patients. In Nazi Germany, the Third Reich systematically violated the separation between state ideology and medical discourse. German physicians were taught that they owed a higher duty to the ‘health of the Volk’ than to the health of individual patients. Recently, Nicolae Ceausescu’s strategy to increase the Romanian birth rate included prohibitions against giving advice to patients about the use of birth control devices and disseminating information about the use of condoms as a means of preventing the transmission of AIDS.’
“Further, when the government polices the content of professional speech, it can fail to ‘preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail.’ Professionals might have a host of good-faith disagreements, both with each other and with the government, on many topics in their respective fields. Doctors and nurses might disagree about the ethics of assisted suicide or the benefits of medical marijuana; lawyers and marriage counselors might disagree about the prudence of prenuptial agreements or the wisdom of divorce; bankers and accountants might disagree about the amount of money that should be devoted to savings or the benefits of tax reform.”
(Bolded emphasis added and citations omitted.)
While the First Amendment case at hand, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra, doesn’t directly concern doctor-recommended medical cannabis, the broad thrust of the ruling does uphold free speech rights for physicians. And one legal expert said that the specific mention of marijuana in the court’s opinion should provide some extra assurance to practitioners who focus on the drug’s medical benefits.
“Given the modern politics of marijuana reform, I was not that worried that the Ninth Circuit’s work in Conant v. Walters would be undermined anytime soon,” wrote Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University, who first spotted the cannabis passage in the new ruling. “But it would not be too hard to imagine Attorney General Jeff Sessions or other state or federal officials resistant to marijuana reform trying to heavily regulate how medical professional can talk to patients about marijuana. This new SCOTUS precedent would seem to limit any such possible efforts.”
That earlier case, Conant. v. Walters, stems from the Clinton administration’s threat, following passage of the first successful state medical cannabis laws, to rescind prescribing licenses from physicians who recommended marijuana to patients. Advocates sued and won an injunction from a district court in 2000, which was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit 2002.
While the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling technically only applies to the nine states under its jurisdiction, the federal government never appealed the case to the Supreme Court, likely because it suspected it would lose.
Now, in an opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas, who was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, the high court has singled out medical marijuana as something that doctors and nurses should be able to disagree with one another about without being punished by the government.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Supreme Court Cites Doctors’ Medical Marijuana Free Speech Rights In Abortion Case
A ruling in a U.S. Supreme Court case about sports gambling on Monday has positive implications for marijuana legalization.
The case, Murphy v. NCAA, centered on whether the Constitution’s anti-commandeering doctrine prevents the federal government from forcing states to keep prohibitions of certain federally banned activities on their own lawbooks.
Specifically at issue was whether a New Jersey ballot measure that legalized betting on sports and subsequent actions by state legislators are invalidated by a congressionally approved law banning states and local governments from licensing or otherwise authorizing gambling on team sports.
The Supreme Court voted 7-2 on Monday to overturn the federal gambling prohibition.
If the justices had ruled the other way, state marijuana laws could have been in greater jeopardy of federal intervention.
In that instance, according to an analysis by the Congressional Research Service, “the federal government may be able to regulate other areas like recreational marijuana…by freezing existing state laws in place, instead of through direct federal regulation.”
Ironically, the case was brought to the Supreme Court by then-Gov. Chris Christie (R), who has repeatedly said he thinks the federal government should intervene in state marijuana laws. He cheered the ruling on Monday, calling it “a great day for the rights of states and their people to make their own decisions.”
“This was the only sensible outcome in this case unless the Court was willing to gut its anticommandeering jurisprudence,” Sam Kamin, who serves as the Vicente Sederberg Professor of Marijuana Law and Policy at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, told Marijuana Moment in an interview. “Congress cannot tell the state legislatures what they can and can’t do. Congress can prohibit sports gaming everywhere, but it can’t make the states do the same.”
If the Court had ruled to uphold the gambling prohibition, it wouldn’t have automatically invalidated state cannabis laws. But Congress would have been empowered to pass a new law, broader than the current Controlled Substances Act (CSA), that required states to keep their own marijuana bans in effect.
Under the CSA as currently written, Congress specifically says it doesn’t intend to “occupy the field” when it comes to drug policies, “including criminal penalties, to the exclusion of any State law on the same subject matter which would otherwise be within the authority of the State…” Instead, the CSA only seeks to preempt state laws that are so inconsistent with its provisions that the two cannot stand together.
Kamin, who filed an amicus brief in the case along with other law professors, said that the case has “obvious” implications for marijuana.
“The CSA stands, but so do state legalization laws,” he said. “Congress can’t prohibit those laws, force the states to repeal them or force the states to go back to prohibition. Almost everyone who’d thought carefully about these issues knew it was so, but it’s nice to see it recognized by a 7-2 Supreme Court.”
The Court’s opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, contains one specific reference to marijuana:
“The concept of state ‘authorization makes sense only against a backdrop of prohibition or regulation. A State is not regarded as authorizing everything that it does not prohibit or regulate. No one would use the term in that way. For example, no one would say that a State ‘authorizes’ its residents to brush their teeth or eat apples or sing in the shower. We commonly speak of state authorization only if the activity in question would otherwise be restricted… The United States maintains that one ‘would not naturally describe a person conducting a sports-gambling operation that is merely left unregulated as acting ‘pursuant to’ state law.’ But one might well say exactly that if the person previously was prohibited from engaging in the activity. (‘Now that the State has legalized the sale of marijuana, Joe is able to sell the drug pursuant to state law.’)”
It also has several passages in which legalization supporters will likely see parallels to the cannabis debate:
“The legalization of sports gambling is a controversial subject. Supporters argue that legalization will produce revenue for the States and critically weaken illegal sports betting operations, which are often run by organized crime. Opponents contend that legalizing sports gambling will hook the young on gambling, encourage people of modest means to squander their savings and earnings, and corrupt professional and college sports.
“The legalization of sports gambling requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution.”
Georgetown Law professor Randy Barnett, who unsuccessfully argued a medical cannabis case before the Supreme Court, said that the new ruling likely shields state marijuana laws from challenges claiming that they are legally preempted by federal prohibition.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
State Marijuana Laws Dodge Supreme Court Bullet
On Friday March 4th 2016, the Supreme Court of the United States will discuss and review Nebraska and Oklahoma v. Colorado, a case that could potentially reverse Colorado’s progressive marijuana legislation.
Bordering states Nebraska and Oklahoma filed the lawsuit against Colorado in December 2014, twelve months after the state enacted a legal retail cannabis market. Nebraska Attorney General, Jon Bruning claims that Colorado officials are not doing enough to ensure the legal cannabis remains in-state. Containing cannabis products is one of the stipulations listed in the Cole Memorandum, the legalization agreement between states and the federal government.
“This contraband has been heavily trafficked into our state. While Colorado reaps millions from the sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost.”
The stakes are high as the ruling could affect all marijuana legislation at the state level.
“It has the potential to be a big deal,” said Sam Kamin, marijuana law professor at the University of Denver.
“Conceivably it could mean that the court finds that Colorado’s and every other state’s regulations of marijuana [are] preempted by federal law and have to be annulled or repealed, or can’t be enforced.”
The plaintiff’s are hoping the will recognize the power of the Supremacy Clause, which gives power to federal laws over those of individual states.
By invoking the Supremacy Clause, Republican supporters for the plaintiffs would be contradicting their long-held values for state’s rights. It could open the door for more legal conflict between states outside of the issue of marijuana as well.
The death of Justice Antonin Scalia has affected the case’s schedule as well as its potential outcome. Justice Scalia was predicted to be in support of the plaintiffs based on previous statements he made in response to questions about marijuana reform. In that instance, which was during a visit to Colorado, he used the Supremacy Clause to support continued marijuana prohibition.
Most cases seen by the Supreme Court make a journey though the lower courts, which can lead to an expedited decision by the Justices. Because this is a case between two states, it bypasses this process and goes straight to the Supreme Court. They will need to appoint a “special master” to perform much of the fact-finding and investigation, which could take years.
The Obama Administration has shown its support through the US Solicitor General by asking the Supreme Court to reject the case outright. States with marijuana laws, including Washington, Oregon and California have also shown support for Colorado.
The Solicitor General already filed a brief with the Supreme Court in December, asking that the court not review the case at all because it, “is not an appropriate case for the exercise of this Court’s original jurisdiction.”
While the Obama Administration has made it clear that it will not pursue marijuana reform during their final year in office, he previously made promises to stay out of state legislation, going so far as suggesting Congress could change federal law if enough states legalize marijuana. Despite these statements, federal agencies under his purview are still aggressively policing marijuana.