Marijuana: Judge rejects argument pot contracts can't be enforced -- and attorney's okay with it
In August, we told you about a major court ruling in which an Arapahoe County judge found that because marijuana is illegal at the federal level, medical marijuana contracts can't be enforced. Attorney Rob Corry subsequently (and somewhat reluctantly) made this same argument on behalf of a client, even though he's among the state's most vocal marijuana-reform activists. Now, a Denver judge has rejected it, and Corry's not griping.
As we've reported, the previous case involved a lawsuit against the Blue Sky Connection dispensary; in it, a plaintiff accused the center of declining to compensate him for approximately $40,000 worth of MMJ between June and October 2010. The trial took place this past April, and the following month, Arapahoe Judge Charles M. Pratt asked the assorted parties to explain "why this Court should not declare the purported contract void as against public policy" -- because "if the disputed contract violates federal law, it would be against public policy and would be void and unenforceable."
After receiving these responses, Pratt determined that the illegality of marijuana at the federal level superseded state law allowing its use for medical purposes. In his ruling, he cited a number of marijuana-related court cases we've covered in this space, including ones involving Jason Beinor, a medical marijuana patient who lost his street-sweeping job after failing a drug test; Leonard Watkins, an MMJ patient prevented from using cannabis while on parole; and Stacy Clendenin, a caregiver who a court decided hadn't gone beyond providing pot for her patients.
Judge Charles M. Pratt.
Pratt's conclusion? "Contracts for the sale of marijuana are void as they are against public policy," he wrote. "Accordingly, the contract here is void and unenforceable."
The ruling didn't set precedent, but it opened up a new line of defense for attorneys involved in medical marijuana lawsuits. As such, Corry made it a primary part of a court filing in the case of West v. Green Cross -- the latter being a dispensary that had retained his services. But the document follows mention of the Blue Sky decision with a highly unusual passage in which Corry essentially maintains that he had to put forward the theory whether he wanted to or not.
Continue to read more about the West v. Green Cross case and to see original documents.