Yo, wassup fam? It’s ya boy Dan here with some serious news on the legal front regarding Washington’s cannabis residency req. In case you don’t know, a few months ago the US District Court for the Western District of Washington (the Court) upheld the residency requirement set by the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB). This means that individuals wanting to own or control a cannabis license must establish residency six months prior to applying for a license. Basically, you gotta be livin’ in the Evergreen State if you wanna get your hands on one of those lic’s.
The Court determined that the Dormant Commerce Clause (DCC) didn’t apply to Washington’s residency req – which makes sense since cannabis is still illegal under federal law. This decision was made despite the fact that other US District Courts had found the DCC did prevent residency reqs in cannabis. But, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Maine’s cannabis residency req violated the Dormant Commerce Clause and that decision could still be applicable to Washington if this case gets taken up on appeal.
So, why did the Court determine that the DCC didn’t apply? Basically, because Congress expressly and unambiguously prohibited interstate commerce of cannabis by listing it in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. And even though Washington has merged its medical and recreational markets, there are limited protections for medical cannabis operations at a federal level that don’t apply to recreational. This is where the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment comes into play and prohibits federal funds from being used to go after medical cannabis operators in compliance with state law.
The Court also granted summary judgment on Brinkmeyer’s claim that the residency requirement violated the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the US Constitution. This Clause basically prohibits states from discriminating against citizens of other states by denying them certain rights, such as the right to pursue a livelihood and travel within the US. The Court determined that citizens do not have any constitutional right to engage in illegal commerce – so upholding Washington’s residency req was justifiable.
Long story short, this is important news for anyone involved in the cannabis industry and especially for those out-of-state looking to get their hands on a license but who can’t meet Washington’s residency requirement. But don’t worry fam, Washington lawmakers are considering a bill that would remove this requirement – so there might be hope yet! I’ll keep you updated on what happens.