Above the Law
A landmark decision by the US Court of International Trade opens up the opportunities for niche African cannabis exporters to look at getting in to the potentially lucrative American market.
The U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) last month ruled that cannabis paraphernalia could be imported into the country, breaking with the rule outlined under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Above the Law reports.
The ruling came in Eteros Technologies USA, Inc. v. U.S., in which Eteros had challenged the CSA ban on cannabis paraphernalia importation after Customs and Border Patrol blocked the entry of its cannabis-trimming equipment at the Port of Blaine, Washington.
Under the CSA, “Drug paraphernalia” is considered “any equipment, product, or material of any kind which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.”
In 2012, when Washington state legalized adult cannabis use, it also amended its prohibition on drug paraphernalia to expressly exclude cannabis from its definition.
In April 2021, Eteros attempted to import the trimmer into the U.S. via the port and was asked by CBP officials whether the trimmer would be used for cannabis that contained more than 0.3% THC – the federal threshold for legal hemp. After being told the tool would, in fact, be used in the adult-use cannabis market, CPB officials seized the equipment. The following month, CPB told Eteros that it would not allow the product entry into the country and Eteros sued the government in June.
The CIT analyzed the CSA and Washington state’s drug laws, but also considered and applied Murphy v. NCAA, a Supreme Court case that held up New Jersey’s sport-betting law despite conflicting with federal law. The CIT concluded that Washington law authorized the importation of Eteros’s trimmer and deemed CBP’s seizure unjustified.
If the ruling survives any possible appeals, it could serve as a national precedent and allow the importation and possibly exportation of federally outlawed paraphernalia.