A federal judge in Philadelphia is reviewing a lawsuit by Simon Property Group concerning the opening of a medical marijuana dispensary in a mall complex. U.S. District Judge Gene Pratter is deciding if the 27-year old deed which states that no drug stores or any “unlawful” stores would be allowed to open in the mall is a true federal issue.
Federally, marijuana is illegal, however the state of Pennsylvania has legalized medical marijuana. It ends up being another 10th Amendment question concerning a state’s sovereign power. The old deed did not take into account that Pennsylvania would ever legalize medical cannabis.
“If a court were to rule that PharmaCann’s dispensary violated federal law, the Supremacy Clause would cast doubt on the validity of dozens of state marijuana schemes,” Pratter said.
The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution asserts that federal law overrides state law. Since 1796, Congress has repeatedly upheld that. But on the issue of medical marijuana, Congress has prohibited the federal government from spending money to interfere with state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs.
Roark, the attorney, said it was unlikely a decision by the judge would deliver a “knockout punch” to Pennsylvania’s marijuana program. But it could set a national precedent.
“Primarily, this could make it harder for someone to operate a dispensary if they don’t own the property. Every lease out there has the ‘unlawful use’ language.” Roark said. “Any landlord could take their tenant to federal court to evict them.”
It is unlikely that anything could stop the marijuana legalization movement here in the United States at this point considering it has gained a tremendous amount of financial leverage. However, Judge Pratter’s decision could fast track the movement if she decides that the dispensary is not an “unlawful” business. Do you believe that the judge will find in favor of the dispensary?