Is Importing Cannabis Equipment Worth It?

Given the growth of both the cannabis industry and international trade, it’s more important than ever to understand the basics, and challenges of, purchasing cannabis-related goods overseas. Root Sciences, a cannabis extraction company, has been learning this the hard way. Last week, it initiated an appeal in the Federal Circuit last week after their lawsuit was dismissed in October 2021.

The facts

In early 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents detained certain cannabis extraction equipment that had been manufactured in Germany and come in from overseas through the Los Angeles/Long Beach port. The equipment consisted of cryo-ethanol extraction system parts.

Root Sciences allegedly attempted to contact CBP repeatedly with no response, then submitted a protest with no response, and finally filed a lawsuit in March 2021 after it assumed its protest was denied by the CBP. The lawsuit against the United States was filed in the United States Court of International Trade (CIT). Root Sciences principally argued that cannabis and cannabis processing equipment are legal under California law, so the seized equipment is exempt from Section 863 of Title 21 of the United States Code, which prohibits the import of “drug paraphernalia.”

The CIT lawsuit and appeal


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