Facing the closure of all dispensaries in the state, the Montana Cannabis Industry Association (MTCIA) on Thursday filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court as part of a last-ditch attempt to negate a February ruling by the state’s highest court.
MTCIA spokeswoman Kate Cholewa said in a press release that the group’s argument is simple: The State Supreme Court erred in concluding that marijuana is “universally” illegal under federal law.
The appeal cites the same act of Congress – the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment – that California’s Harborside Health Center used recently in negotiations with the Department of Justice in getting a four-year-old case against it dismissed. The provision prohibits the DOJ from using federal funds to interfere with state-level medical marijuana laws, including in Montana.
“Our attorney believes there has been a misapprehension of the federal position and so, accordingly, the U.S. Supreme Court should assume jurisdiction,” Cholewa said in the statement.
The Supreme Court may accept the case before it goes on recess in June, or may not decide whether to take up the case until it reconvenes in October, according to the MTCIA statement. However, SCOTUS has not displayed much interest in intervening in cannabis cases – in March, it declined to consider an inter-state lawsuit between the attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma that targeted Colorado’s recreational marijuana law.
Last month, the Montana Supreme Court denied a request by the MTCIA to delay the implementation of its February ruling until mid-2017, and set an implementation date of Aug. 31, which means that’s the last day dispensaries can legally operate in Montana.