How Will Brett Kavanaugh Affect Legal Cannabis?

judge and gavel

With open seats on the Supreme Court and the Trump Administration eager to leave a lasting mark, a lot is changing in the United States government and policy. The cannabis industry will not be immune to the effects of these changes, so it is important to stay up to date on those in power. Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been dominating the news cycle lately with his controversial hearing so many in the cannabis space may be wondering where Kavanaugh, a Republican and one of President Trump's top-choice Supreme Court nominees, stands on issues of marijuana legislation. Leafbuyer is here to break it down.

Who is Brett Kavanaugh?

Brett Kavanaugh is a 53-year-old Washington, D.C. native who was educated at Yale University. After his education, he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy; it is Kennedy whose place on the Supreme Court Kavanaugh will take if he is confirmed. Kavanaugh is currently in the process of being confirmed, and many sources believe it is likely to happen due to Republican support and some Democratic crossover, barring any complications that may or may not involve document acquisition or recent allegations of sexual assault.

Where Does Kavanaugh Stand on Controversial Issues?

To gain a more accurate impression of Kavanaugh as a potential Supreme Court Justice, it is important to understand where he stands on the key issues to face the court in the future.

In the case of presidential power, Kavanaugh has shown support for the 1974 decision in United States v. Nixon, but he has not answered the direct question about whether or not a president can pardon himself or must respond to a subpoena.

On abortion, Kavanaugh is a Catholic but has vaguely agreed that Roe v. Wade is settled law and protected by the 14th amendment.

In terms of gun regulation, Kavanaugh is more gun-friendly, stating that a ban on semiautomatic rifles should be unconstitutional and opposing gun registration rules.

Kavanaugh has also been skeptical about climate change rulings, as well, for example, disagreeing with the power that the Obama Administration granted to the E.P.A.

So the question remains: If an issue of marijuana regulation comes to the Supreme Court and Brett Kavanaugh is a justice, how might he rule?

What is Kavanaugh's Stance on Marijuana?

Here's the short answer: It could go either way. Here's the long answer: Kavanaugh does not appear to have ever ruled on a marijuana case during his time as a judge, but he may be one of the key decision-makers if a cannabis case hits the Supreme Court in the future. We must look to other drug-related cases and where he stands on other issues to make an educated guess on just how Kavanaugh's potential confirmation to the court will affect cannabis across the country.

In one case, Kavanaugh supported the upholding of a requirement that employees of group homes for at-risk youth be drug tested, stating that he believes in "the government's strong interest in ensuring a drug-free workforce." He cited the fourth amendment and said that this did not violate the constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure.

He also has a history of siding with the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) on issues, one of which involved the use of experimental drugs by terminally ill patients. Another revolved around the approval of medical devices. Like many conservatives, Kavanaugh draws directly from the constitution and examines the exact fundamental rights provided.

If we realize that Kavanaugh often defends the FDA, we can connect that to the fact that the FDA has yet to accept the fact that THC in marijuana has any medical benefits. Should a marijuana case fall into Kavanaugh's lap, an outcome may include Kavanaugh staying conservative on the issue of drug reform. However, with no formal record of his stance, there is always a possibility of Kavanaugh acting more centrally or liberally on the issue. As he states it, Kavanaugh's "judicial philosophy is straightforward. A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent."

For those opposed to the legalization of marijuana, Kavanaugh has the potential to slow some of the progress made by states in recent years and could be instrumental in creating uniform strict regulation. For those in favor, he may prove to be a wild card on the issue, but if not, states can continue their slow moves toward medical and recreational legalization. For now, regulation lies within state jurisdiction, and we can anxiously wait to see if Kavanaugh will indeed be confirmed by the Senate and be given an opportunity to affect the cannabis space in the future. Stay up to date with the Kavanaugh drama and the Senators' positions as news continues to break on his confirmation.