Attorneys Examine Comments from Justice Thomas on Possible Future Supreme Court Review of Federal Cannabis Law

July 28, 2021
Cannabis Business Executive

Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Michael Tackeff, Mallory Farrar, Justin Starling and Erica Vick authored an article for Cannabis Business Executive examining recent comments from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas possibly hinting that the Supreme Court may be ready to weigh in on the federal laws banning cannabis. The different, and often contradictory, state and federal laws regulating cannabis have left the industry in chaos. As the authors point out, “the federal government retains its formal legal ban on cannabis but, in practice, has tolerated the loosening of cannabis laws in a vast majority of states. This has resulted in a highly unstable stalemate.” For years, the Supreme Court has refused to hear cannabis-related cases and provide guidance.

But Justice Thomas’s 2021 comments in the Standing Akimbo case may show the Court is ready to take action. Justice Thomas described the present federal cannabis ban as “half-in, half out,” and went on to state that “A prohibition on intrastate use or cultivation of marijuana may no longer be necessary or proper to support the Federal Government’s piecemeal approach” (emphasis in original text).

The full article, “Justice Thomas Leaves Door Open for Possible Future Supreme Court Review of Federal Cannabis Law,” was published July 26 by Cannabis Business Executive and is available online.