The U.S. Department of Justice has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decline taking up a lawsuit regarding claims for medical marijuana treatment reimbursement for injured employees. A section of the arguments given by the DOJ for its recommendation include a statement that the federal legislature is moving to resolve the conflict between federal marijuana law and state law.
The specific question put before the Supreme Court arises from two cases in Minnesota. In both cases, employees wanted compensation after being injured at work. For both of these cases, the supreme court of Minnesota decided that the law at the federal level banning cannabis took precedence over any state law permitting the use of the substance. This meant that the employees in question weren’t entitled to any compensation from their employers for the medical cannabis they used.
However, the plaintiffs in the case insist that availing workers’ compensation for injured employees who use medical marijuana doesn’t in any way contravene federal law since providing such compensation can’t be interpreted as possessing, trafficking or even cultivating a federally prohibited substance under the CSA.
When this matter was presented to the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court wrote to the DOJ seeking its input regarding the subject matter of the suit. That is how the solicitor general filed a response calling on the SCOTUS to turn down hearing that case, noting that a more suitable remedy could be worked out by the legislature or the executive branch.
The DOJ stated that the issues being raised in the lawsuit are in a new legal zone that is rapidly evolving and it is too early for the highest court in the country to take up a matter that hasn’t matured or generated ample case material at the state level in order to require direction from the highest level of the judiciary. According to the DOJ, any state-level law that compels third parties to subsidize the possession or use of a federally banned substance under the Controlled Substances Act contravenes federal law and is therefore unenforceable.
As more states pass marijuana legalization measures, the contradictions between federal and state law are likely to intensify, with sector actors such as Flora Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: FLGC) having to tread a very thin line between operating within state law while staying clear of being found in contravention of federal law. This isn’t a conducive position for the industry to be in, especially given that each state has its own unique marijuana regulations that licensed companies have to adhere to in each jurisdiction.
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