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Pennsylvania

Philadelphia mall fight could affect state marijuana laws

| Friday, March 16, 2018, 9:42 a.m.
REUTERS

A fight over a Philadelphia mall's deed restrictions belongs in federal court because it could end up affecting the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

PharmaCann Penn LLC is challenging a deed restriction that prevents it from using the mall space it bought for any "activity or use which is unlawful." The company has a state license and city zoning approval to operate a dispensary.

Simon Property Group Inc., the mall owner, contends the deed restriction prevents PharmaCann from opening the dispensary because dispensing marijuana is a federal crime.

PharmaCann filed a lawsuit in state court to overcome the deed restriction, but the mall owners had it moved to federal court. U.S. District Judge Gene E.K. Pratter on Wednesday denied PharmaCann's motion to send the case back to state court.

The case involves more than state law, the judge ruled.

"By the court's count, 29 states have authorized some form of medical marijuana and nine have authorized 'recreational' marijuana," Pratter said in her decision.

His eventual ruling on whether PharmaCann's proposed dispensary violates federal law has the potential to "cast doubt on the validity of dozens of state marijuana schemes," the judge said.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, bbowling@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribBrian.

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