Will Pot + RICO Challenge State’s Federalist Trend?

Marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn., in 2015. (Jim Mone/Associated Press)

Marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn., in 2015. (Jim Mone/Associated Press)

Writing in The Washington Post, legal commentator Jonathan H. Adler outlines both the context and challenges facing “legal” marijuana now that a law targeting gangsters is being used for civil resistance to state pot reforms. We’ve reported before that the federal 10th Circuit court has taken a stand and it’s significant.
Adler outlines the federal context, including how the U.S. Congress has linked marijuana to funding legislation, before going into the looming challenges.
He notes that “… a bigger potential threat [to state legalization efforts] comes from the fact that marijuana possession and distribution are predicate offenses under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). This means that those who produce or sell marijuana are potentially subject to civil RICO suits, whether or not such activities are legal under state law. So held the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit earlier this year. A federal judge once described RICO as “the monster that ate jurisprudence.” Barring real reform at the federal level, it could be the monster that ate marijuana federalism, too. Here again, an appropriations rider is insufficient.

Adler is arguing that the RICO use is a threat to the “federalism” model for state control. 
Opinion | Will marijuana make federalism go up in smoke?

Google Wins Appeal Decision On Scanning Copyrighted Books

Google has won an appeals decision on its controversial book-scanning practice. New York based U.S. Circuit Court Judge Denny Chin ruled that the practice is “transformative” and does not violate copyright. The Google case hinges on not making the books totally available online. Rather, it allows the material to be searched and provides “snippets.” Thus, the argument goes, the practice is protected by the same “fair use” provisions that allow a book reviewer to use snippets in their reports.
NPR’s report on the decision notes that “… Google began scanning books back in 2004. Many of the works were by living authors. The Authors Guild took legal action against Google, demanding $750 for each book it scanned. Google estimated that it would have cost the company $3 billion.” Google also predicts the service could make older and out-of-print books more relevant.
An appeal to the U.S. Supreme court is promised by the authors and others seeking to protect their work. They argue that, because Google sells ads next to those “snippets” of books, it profits from their work without compensating the copyright holders. See the NPR report here: Judge: Google’s Book Copying Doesn’t Violate Copyright Law