Donald Trump’s unorthodox and erratic governing style has many anxious with every move that he makes, justifiably. The cannabis community certainly reads the tea leaves on each and every political maneuver that may impact marijuana law reforms across the country. The nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court is no different, as he could be the deciding vote in important cases that impact the cannabis community, including whether state legalization and medical laws are protected from various lawsuits and the constitutional rights of medical cardholders. Gorsuch, a federal 10th Circuit Court judge, is considered to be in the mold of the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.
During the campaign, we were heartened by Trump’s statements affirming his support for medical cannabis, while his tepid support for states’ rights regarding adult use could be read both positively and negatively. Jeff Sessions as attorney general has been panned by most legalization advocates, while others have taken a wait-and-see approach, hoping that the Alabama Senators’ states’ rights positions, and his willingness to follow Trump’s directive, wins the day. Jim O’Neill, one of the frontrunners to lead the FDA, on the other hand, has been welcomed by Drug War reformers.
The best way to predict out how Neil Gorsuch would rule on marijuana issues is to look at his past cases. The New York Daily News covered how Gorsuch ruled on an early cannabis industry tax case:
A Colorado dispensary was made by the IRS to pay taxes on “business expenses” that they took off, and said that they should not have to disclose the nature of their business to authorities for fear of self-incriminating, according to Courthouse News.
Gorsuch and fellow judges denied the dispensary’s motion in 2015, though the judge was sympathetic.
His opinion focused on the Obama administration as a center of the problems, saying confusion stemmed from the Justice Department saying it would not prosecute.
Who else, but Tom Angell, found where Gorsuch ruled against couple claiming a religious exemption for their marijuana use:
Trump #SCOTUS pick Gorsuch ruled against couple claiming religious marijuana exception in 2010 case.
Says they didn’t meet sincerity test. pic.twitter.com/SMjdy1O2aE
— Tom Angell (@tomangell) February 1, 2017
It will be interesting to see how Democrats treat a nominee thought to be a Scalia clone, so we can certainly expect his position on Roe V. Wade to be front and center, as abortion rights are always a hot-button issue. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, a cannabis legalization supporter, is urging his Senate Democrats to do all that they can to block Gorsuch’s nomination.
I encourage my Senate colleagues to give Neil Gorsuch the same courtesy Senate Republicans gave Merrick Garland. #SCOTUS
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) February 1, 2017
Trump’s tenure in the White House has already been pretty crazy, and I expect that we can expect a bit more craziness. Here’s hoping that cannabis legalization, a movement that can benefit patients and create jobs and revenue across our great nation, stays safe. We will be watching all nominations closely and shall forever remain vigilant.