Connecticut Lawsuit Challenges Cannabis Sales in the State

Published on: 

A recent lawsuit brought to the state’s Superior Court challenges the constitutionality of several aspects of cannabis sales.

On August 9th, 2023, the Stamford Neighborhoods Coalition plus other individuals filed a lawsuit seeking to halt cannabis business operations in the state, claiming that the Controlled Substances Act pre-empts legal sales of cannabis (1). The complaint names as defendants Stamford Mayor Caroline Simmons and the city’s Zoning Board (1).

Recreational cannabis became legal in the Constitution State in 2021 and cannabis for medical purposes became legal in 2012 (1,2).

“Under federal law anyone involved in the growing, manufacturing, distribution or dispensing, or possession with intent to manufacture, grow, distribute or dispense marijuana is marijuana trafficking subject to federal prosecution under the federal Controlled Substances Act,” stated attorney David Herz (1).


The lawsuit requested the discontinuation of the Zoning and Planning Boards, stating some members’ terms had expired and that cannabis businesses increased criminal activity, which would threaten children and decrease surrounding property values (1,2). “It is therefore unconstitutional and can not be relied upon by the City of Stamford or its Zoning Board to permit the illegal enterprise that is every Cannabis business,” the complaint alleged (1).

Additionally, the lawsuit claimed the actions of the Social Equity Council, which was created with the 2021 law to ensure communities most affected by the enforcement of previous cannabis laws benefited from new cannabis laws, violated an equal rights provision (3). “The purpose of the Social Equity Counsel is to entitle a certain set of people to exclusive public emoluments,” the lawsuit stated (3).

The office of the Connecticut Attorney General stated it was reviewing the lawsuit, and according to the case docket, a hearing has not yet been scheduled (1,2)

Sales from cannabis dispensaries last month generated more than $13 million in sales in the state (1).


  1. McQuaid, H. Lawsuit seeks to halt commercial cannabis businesses in Connecticut (accessed Aug 17, 2023).
  2. Connecticut lawsuit seeks repeal of Stamford, state marijuana legalization (accessed Aug 17, 2023).
  3. Branfalt, T. Lawsuit seeks to end Connecticut’s cannabis programs (accessed Aug 17, 2023).