OAG argues that cannabis law not preempted by federal law and plaintiff lacks standing to bring lawsuit

The Government of Guam has opposed a motion in a lawsuit that seeks to void the Guam Cannabis Industry Act of 2019 (Act). The lawsuit was filed in District Court by Sedfrey Linsangan in early April. He alleges that GovGuam violated the Organic Act of Guam and the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) -a federal law that establishes drug policies for the manufacturing, importation, possession, use and distribution of regulated substances- when the Guam legislature passed Public Law 35-5.

In its filing, the OAG points out that Congress defined “state” in the CSA to include the territories. “Thus, the CSA leaves States and territories, including Guam, free to pass laws relating to marijuana so long as they do not create a ‘positive conflict’ with federal law,” the OAG stated in its opposition.  

The OAG also argued that the plaintiff lacks standing to bring this lawsuit because he has not suffered a personal or tangible harm as a result of the passage of the Act. Finally, the OAG argued that the CSA does not give the plaintiff a right to enforce its provisions.

Acting Deputy Attorney General for the Litigation Division, Shannon Taitano, filed the Opposition to Plaintiff’s Motion for Summary Judgement on behalf of GovGuam. Linsangan’s reply to the Motion is expected early next month.  

The Guam Cannabis Industry Act, Public Law 35-5, decriminalizes the personal use of marijuana for individuals who are 21 years-old and older.  It also places restrictions on cultivation, regulates cannabis-related operations, and imposes a tax. To read the motion, click here