Anti-Cannabis Group Sues New York Over Legalization

A group of anti-cannabis parties has banded together to sue the State of New York including Governor Kathy Hochul, the Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management. The case was filed on June 20, 2023. New York passed the Marijuana Regulations and Taxation Act (MRTA) on March 31, 2021 which legalized adult-use cannabis.

The parties behind the suit include:

  • Cannabis Impact Prevention Coalition – Their mission is to prevent impacts from cannabis.
  • Cannabis Industry Victims Seeking Justice – This group provides advocacy services to victims of the cannabis industry
  • Phil Orenstein who says he has had devastating personal experiences with cannabis
  • Edwin De La Cruz – a father concerned over his son’s cannabis consumption and his son Eric
  • Renee Barchitta, Philip McManus, Robert Caemmerer-  members of CIVSJ
  • Richard McArthur – a member of CIPC
  • Ronnie Hickey who claims she has suffered from cannabis smoke in her apartment building

The main thrust of the case is that cannabis is still federally illegal and therefore the state can’t legalize it. The group also believes that sending out Mothers Day greetings sends the wrong messages with regard to protecting children’s health. They claim that some New York mothers who used cannabis allowed their children to die.

Many of the arguments in the case border on debunked reefer madness claims. They include:

  • Risky decision making
  • Impaired judgment leading to unpredictable behavior
  • Misinformation on the dangers of cannabis
  • Not allowing firearm ownership means cannabis consumers can’t exercise self-control

The case accuses politicians of showing a lack of leadership and being misinformed of the dangers of cannabis. The case claims that commercialization of cannabis has caused homelessness, increased car crashes and that even the highways in Colorado “reek of marijuana.”

The court filing stated, “Marijuana products can be very concentrated in potency and reach 99% THC, the psychoactive, intoxicating , mind-altering component of the drug. These products cause addiction, mental illness, birth defects, suicide, violence, DUIs and many adverse general health problems.”

The parties believe that cannabis is not a states right issue and that cannabis laws can’t supersede federal laws. It also cites the issue of cannabis being a Schedule One drug. They accuse the state of creating a marijuana trafficking scheme violating federal law. They claim that the medical marijuana laws in the state of New York are not based on any medical studies and that only FDA-approved cannabis should be considered medical marijuana.

The case is asking that the state nullify the medical and adult-use cannabis laws.




Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.


  • Pat Murphy

    June 23, 2023 at 10:21 am

    I mean, if they want to waste their money and go for it. They are the wrong side of history. And just like the victims of prohibition government lies have lead them to this. They claim the FDA didn’t approve anything studies that prove the medical use of cannabis. FDA didn’t approve any of their studies either. The illegal status of cannabis has prevented studies from either side to be approved by the FDA. However, most of the states have a medical program that have hundreds of thousands of people in it. If it didn’t work medically, then those people would be seeking relief elsewhere. Again they are on the wrong side of history and the only thing they were doing is trying to prevent, is stopping the injustice of people being wrongfully imprisoned for this. That needs to stop immediately. I mean, both sides are already talking about taxes, and out of the money I spent when things are legalized. The only thing holding everything back is that the money hasn’t been legalized yet. Once the money is legalized, those politicians will get around to the people to get that money. Imprisoning people over. This is becoming more and more immoral every day. But let’s keep talking about the money.


  • Lance Marc Brofman

    June 23, 2023 at 12:32 pm

    The nexus between the opioid epidemic and cannabis is that legalization of recreational cannabis has been shown to reduce opioid deaths by about a third. The legalization of recreational cannabis by Colorado in 2014 and other states since then, has provided enough data for academic researchers to determine that the reduction in opioid deaths resulting from the legalization of recreational cannabis is very statistically significant. This evidence would tend to support legalization of recreational cannabis in those states that have not yet done so. At least, among those who can be influenced by peer-reviewed scholarly research results.

    An interesting result from the research is that just legalizing medical cannabis does not result in a statistically significant reduction in opioid deaths. An explanation for this result may be seen in the typical media accounts of particularly heart-breaking opioid overdose deaths. Many of the news stories involve someone who years ago had a drug abuse problem, but who had apparently been drug-free for many years. This person’s friends and relatives were very proud that the person had turned their life around and now had a good job and family. Then the person is found dead on the floor from an opioid overdose.

    The reason that researchers found that, after accounting for all variables, opioid deaths are so much lower in jurisdictions with legal recreational cannabis, is that some people who might otherwise use opioids are using cannabis instead. No one has ever died directly from a cannabis overdose. For someone trying to conceal their drug use from the world, getting a prescription for state-legal medical cannabis could be problematic. This raises the question of why the person in the story did not use cannabis instead of opioids? Presumably, who ever sold the illegal opioids to the person could likely have provided the person with illegal cannabis as well. However, illegal cannabis may not be a substitute for opioids for someone trying to conceal their drug use. Illegal cannabis is generally sold as flower to be smoked. Because of the smell and factors such as reddening of the eyes, smoking is difficult to conceal from those people close to one. State-legal recreational cannabis is sold either as flower or in edible form. Edible cannabis use is as easy to conceal as opioids. Thus, legalization of recreational cannabis can reduce opioid deaths by about a third, but legalizing medical cannabis has no statistically significant reduction in opioid deaths…”


  • John Thomas

    June 23, 2023 at 5:48 pm

    From the article:

    >>>”The main thrust of the case is that cannabis is still federally illegal and therefore the state can’t legalize it.”

    That works if you live in a bubble. In the real world 23 states and D.C. have already proven that’s wrong.

    The FDA is trying to also ignore reality. Cannabis is primarily a recreational drug, like alcohol and tobacco. Those two VASTLY more harmful drugs don’t need FDA approval, so it’s obscenely ludicrous to demand it for near harmless cannabis.


  • Matt Brown

    June 25, 2023 at 5:31 pm

    Ok, so, this lawsuit is frivolous and needs to be treated as such, those that brought the suit need to be fined for wasting tax payers money and held in contempt for filing a fraudulent lawsuit based upon hearsay and false implication.

    The MRTA still holds a criminal penalty for possession of cannabis, over certain amounts. It is not “legal”, it IS “decriminalized” only.

    The Federal government can not prescribe the penalties that states impose on marijuana consumption, possession or cultivation.

    Yes, it is illegal Federally, but no where in the US Constitution does it allow the Federal Government the mandate of imposing state law or penalties upon the states, that are outside of the rights enumerated.

    Speaking of “Rights Enumerated”, ask yourselves why they needed a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT to make ALCOHOL ILLEGAL but not Cannabis?
    Funny how that worked huh? The double standards in this country are getting more and more, and true justice for the people is a song and a prayer.


  • Peter McArdle

    June 29, 2023 at 6:09 am

    2 years ago the State Government surrendered its favorite means of SOCIAL CONTROL and ended the fraudulent cannabis prohibition, after at least 85 years of continuous abuse of the law against NYers.

    By parroting the lies told by the Federal Government in the 1930s about the dangers of the plant—cannabis, they banned its possession and use with harsh criminal laws and then enforced those laws unfairly, unevenly and inconsistently, most often using them to target specific groups for excessive punishment.

    Starting in the 1930s or even before, and continuing right up through the present, the Federal Government’s unspoken agenda was to use prohibition laws against cannabis users to oppress, exclude and intimidate minorities and others it deemed a threat.

    It claimed cannabis—or marijuana as the government began calling it—was so dangerous and addictive, that they had to ban it completely and enforce the ban with harsh penalties, including jail and prison time for anyone caught with it.

    From the beginning, they said it was an existential threat to the health, safety and wellbeing of the American Public. And they treated it as such.

    It was not.

    They were lying.

    Unfortunately, they were skillful liars, and persistent too, and one of the takeaways from the failed cannabis prohibition is that lies about matters of public health are far more damaging and destructive than lies about ordinary politics. They are durable. The Public believes them, and once they’re told a lie that they believe, especially about matters of their own personal safety, it’s not easy to convince them of something else.

    Not that anyone was trying, until recently. The lies and propaganda about cannabis that began 90 years ago to justify the arrest, detention and deportation of its users are still told today, in some parts of America.

    Apparently this group has already waxed nostalgic for the good ol’ days, after only 2 short years of legal cannabis in New York.

    Never mind that we tried out a criminal prohibition for 85 years and it failed, catastrophically.

    Because as near as anyone can tell, the laws against cannabis have caused approximately 23 million arrests so far nationally, across the entire country. and they have been utterly ineffective.


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