In what appears to be yet another attempt to decriminalize marijuana without actually doing so, a federal court has ruled that state-legal marijuana creates an exemption to federal laws banning the importation of drug paraphernalia from other countries. The recent decision is the latest twist in the ongoing saga of marijuana’s status across the United States.
It will be interesting to see if the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) ruling will be overturned on appeal, if it’s appealed at all. If U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) decides not to appeal, companies located in states with legalized marijuana will be free to import all sorts of things from foreign manufacturers.
CBP Denies Cannabis Trimming Equipment
The original case stems from an action taken by CBP in 2021. Apparently, CBP officers denied a shipment of cannabis trimming equipment being shipped from Canada to Washington state. Officials deemed the equipment drug paraphernalia under their interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
A suit was filed by the company attempting to import the equipment. Their position was that the equipment was used primarily to trim industrial hemp, which is fully legal in this country. They further contended that, even if the equipment were used to trim marijuana, it is still legal under a federal law that allows states and municipalities to authorize paraphernalia importation.
Ruling in favor of the plaintiffs sets the stage for importing a lot more than just hemp trimming equipment. Everything from bongs to imported grow lights are now on the table. The real question now is what the states will do about it.
States with Heavy Restrictions
There are some states that have given the green light to medical cannabis but still restrict their programs tightly. According to Utah marijuana dispensary Beehive Farmacy, the Beehive State is one of them. An example of Utah’s strict regulations is a rule that governs what Beehive Farmacy can and cannot sell.
All the medical products sold at the company’s two locations must be manufactured in Utah. Moreover, all the cannabis from which those products are derived must be grown in the state. Will Utah respond to the latest CIT ruling by banning imported equipment and devices? No one knows.
States with Few Restrictions
Utah represents just one side of the spectrum. The other side is clearly illustrated by Colorado. As you probably know, the Centennial State has one of the most liberal cannabis laws of all the states. They have even gone as far as to seriously entertain the idea of legalizing psychedelics.
It is hard to imagine that Colorado would ban imported drug paraphernalia of any kind. But nobody knows for sure. Maybe imports are a bridge too far. We will just have to wait and see what happens when the dust settles.
Meanwhile, in Washington…
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Washington appear content to continue stalling on marijuana rescheduling or decriminalization. There were high hopes that the Biden presidency would mean quick passage and signing of a decriminalization bill. But the president has been very vocal in his opposition to decriminalization.
Senate Democrats haven’t had to worry about that because they cannot even muster enough votes to get a decriminalization bill passed. But there is hope that rescheduling marijuana as a Schedule II substance is doable within the very near future.
If rescheduling does occur, it would make the CIT ruling moot. Equipment related to marijuana cultivation, processing, and consumption would automatically be allowed under the new scheduling. Will it happen? Maybe, and maybe not. The future is still cloudy on this one.