Colorado District Judge: U.S. Law Moots Medical Pot Contract
In a long-standing battle between Colorado and the U.S. over medical marijuana laws, the scales here have most recently tipped in favor of the federal government. In a legal dispute between a medical marijuana grower and a dispensary, Arapahoe County District Court Judge Charles Pratt has ruled in the latter’s favor, citing that medical marijuana is illegal under federal law, as John Ingold reports for The Denver Post on August 18.
Deeper into the ruling, Pratt made an even more significant conclusion: Colorado’s entire medical-marijuana law is invalid because it is trumped by federal law.
‘[A]ny state authorization to engage in the manufacture, distribution or possession of marijuana creates an obstacle to full execution of federal law,’ Pratt wrote. ‘Therefore, Colorado’s marijuana laws are preempted by federal marijuana law.’
In the case Pratt ruled on, medical marijuana grower Quincy Haeberle sued Blue Sky Care Connection and its manager, Laura Lowden, after the dispensary failed to pay him for the $40,000 worth of marijuana he delivered, Ingold writes. Michael Roberts notes in Denver Westword Blogs that the delivery was made between June and October of 2010.
As Robert reports, Judge Pratt wrote: “Contracts for the sale of marijuana are void as they are against public policy. Accordingly, the contract here is void and unenforceable.”
While Haeberle decides whether to appeal, according to Ingold, the ruling:
[…] was a jolt to Colorado’s cannabis cognoscenti, even though it is uncertain how widespread its impact will be. Because the order was issued by a District Court judge, it does not count as legal precedent that other judges must follow.
In a comment below the Denver Westword Blogs article, someone named Monkey wrote the following:
I guess I’m just a stupid stoner but […] Blue sky is getting out of a contract for payment because they operate, and still operate, illegally? Their defense is that their business is illegal, therefor making any agreements related to their illegal activities are unenforceable? And, because they are in Colorado, they can continue to operate illegally until the feds do something, but the people they do business with, legally in Colorado, don’t have the same luxury. I don’t get it, isn’t admitting you conduct an illegal business an admission of committing crimes?
And a commenter named Bradley Langston writes about the Denver Westword Blogs article on its Facebook page: “I have my doubts about ‘medical’ marijuana, but they need to legalize it and tax it. Budget problems solved. ”
Image by Jeffrey Beall.