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.

Syngenta Agrees to $550,000 EPA Pesticide Worker Protection Enforcement Settlement

Syngenta Seeds LLC (“Syngenta”), a subsidiary of Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta, reached a settlement with the EPA for violations of The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (“FIFRA”) Worker Protection Standard. In a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO) document, Syngenta agreed to a civil penalty of $150,000 and to implement a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) costing no less than $400,000.

The administrative complaint filed against Syngenta alleged that seasonal workers were exposed to chlorpyrifos and permethrin before the restricted entry interval (REI) of 24 hours had passed, were not warned by Syngenta employees before entering, and were not properly decontaminated after the incident. Exposure events occurred on two occasions in 2016 and 2017. The matter came to EPA attention through a worker reporting adverse reactions after working in the Syngenta field. The complaint goes further stating that the warning sign that notifies workers of pesticide applications was folded up, obscuring its full view from the workers and Syngenta employees failed to verbally inform the workers to not enter the restricted areas.

The resulting SEP will develop and help promote use of Worker Protection Standard (WPS) Compliance Kits, and train employees on how to comply with FIFRA Worker Protection Standards. Due to most of the violations occurring in-house, the SEP will focus on training Syngenta’s full-time employees. While the CAFO does not explain how the EPA came to the $400,000 figure, it explicitly notes the $400,000 “shall not include the following categories of Respondent’s costs: Respondent’s overhead, Respondent’s additional employee time and salary, Respondent’s administrative expenses, Respondent’s legal fees, and Respondent’s costs of oversight of the contractor who will develop and implement the SEP.” More details of the CAFO can be found here.

04/03/2018

© 2018

EPA Attempt to Delay Certified Pesticide Applicator Rule Overturned by Court

In an action brought by a major Latino farmworker union,  the U.S. District Court for  the Northern District of California overturned efforts by EPA to delay the implementation of the Certified Pesticide Applicator rule. In January 2017, the EPA determined to revise the rule and in the interim sought to postpone its effective date from March 2017 to  March 2020. The judge ruled that the delay would cause the plaintiffs to suffer injury and that EPA failed to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act. The Court annulled the rulemakings postponing the rule and reinstated the original timeline for implementation.

This decision represents a major victory for agricultural and pesticide workers. Of these revisions, the most significant entail strengthening regulations on certified applicators.  Certification is required for the use of restricted use pesticides (RUPs). RUPs are known to be highly toxic and responsible for acute toxicity issues in persons that apply and handle them. The rule requires states to update their certification plans in accordance with the updated regulations, and to combat poisoning issues and promote worker safety, establishes for the first time a nationwide minimum age for certifying pesticide applicators. The rule mandates that people be at least 18 years old to become certified, with a provision that allows family members at least 16 years old to become certified, effective only on the certified applicator’s family farm.