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Cannabis Attorneys Provide Insight to NJLJ re Highland Park Suit

February 28, 2024

Two of Riker Danzig’s Cannabis Law attorneys were tapped to provide insight into a lawsuit filed in Highland Park, NJ that opposes cannabis sales in the town.  The suit claims that local ordinances allowing marijuana sales are in violation of federal law and therefore illegal under state law.  The article, “Marijuana in Highland Park: Lawyers Have Doubts About New Suit,” was published in the February 27, 2024 New Jersey Law Journal.

Ryan L. O’Neill, a partner in the firm’s Cannabis and White Collar Criminal Defense and Investigations Groups, said that companies in the cannabis industry in New Jersey “are very careful to avoid implicating federal law, by avoiding interstate sales and by complying with complex rules concerning banking and transfers of money.”  Ryan suggested that the Highland Park suit appears to be an attempt to force a crackdown on the state’s cannabis industry, but that neither the state Attorney General’s Office nor the federal government have shown a willingness to do that.

Associate David M. Stewart, who practices Governmental Affairs, White Collar Criminal Defense and Cannabis Law at Riker Danzig, noted, “When there’s a conflict between state and federal laws, as a matter of law, the federal law prevails. But that doesn’t necessarily get the plaintiff into the courthouse.”

David added that it would actually probably keep them out of a federal courthouse “because the Supreme Court has told us time and again that there’s a prohibition on generalized grievances. Citizens do not, except for very, very limited circumstances, have Article III standing to bring a suit in federal court asserting significant injury redress when that injury is no different than any other citizen.” David suggested that this is probably why the plaintiffs styled this as an action in lieu of prerogative writs in state court, rather than a federal lawsuit seeking to vindicate freestanding federal rights.

Read the full article at Marijuana in Highland Park (subscription required).

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Ryan Lee O'Neill

Ryan Lee O'Neill

David M. Stewart

David M. Stewart

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