Supreme Court Decision Opening Door to Sports Wagering Offers No Precedent for Marijuana Legalization

With the Supreme Court striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”), the ruling opens the way for states to legalize sports betting. In wake of the ruling, many news organizations have been quick to compare how this ruling might affect future state legalization of cannabis. While on the surface the legal posture on each issue appears to share commonalities, the legislative differences mean this decision offers no route to state cannabis legalization.
To understand the differences between the two legislative efforts, one must understand the difference between Federal statutory directions to state versus private actors. As the name suggests, state conduct refers to state actions while private conduct refers to the actions of individuals. PASPA controlled state conduct, forbidding states from legalizing sports betting. The Supreme Court ruling on PASPA rested on the “anti-commandeering” principle, which dictates the Federal government is constitutionally precluded from dictating state conduct. Since there are no Federal statutes that contain a prohibition for private conduct on sports betting, legislatively state legalization on sports betting will face no impediment.
In the case of cannabis, there are multiple Federal laws that make private cannabis-related conduct illegal, rendering the PASPA legislative ruling fundamentally different. Due to these multiple Federal laws prohibiting cannabis-related private conduct, even if states move to authorize legislation legalizing cannabis-related private conduct, Federal criminal laws would still prohibit its criminal use.

Telisport Putsavage Appointed to New York Bar Association Cannabis Law Committee

With state-level cannabis legalization for medical and recreational use sweeping across the United States, policymakers have found themselves limited in their ability to share developments and best practices within the cannabis industry. To alleviate this information bottleneck, the New York State Bar Association created a new Cannabis Law Committee to facilitate information-sharing amongst lawyers on developments within cannabis policy.
Telisport Putsavage, of Putsavage PLLC and EnviroReg LLC, has been appointed to represent the Environment and Energy Section on the Cannabis Law Committee, in which only 20 people out of 70,000 were selected. Mr. Putsavage will be joining ranks with other lawyers to discuss the conflicting state and federal cannabis laws and how best the state of New York can develop its cannabis industry. Mr. Putsavage’s specific connection to the industry is his representation on matters related to the use of pesticides in the cultivation of cannabis.