Cannabis companies are facing a slew of class action lawsuits under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which prohibits unwanted automated calls and text messages. In Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid et al., the U.S. Supreme Court provided some clarity that stakeholders have been awaiting since 2015 by adopting a narrower interpretation of the term “autodialer” for purposes of the TCPA. The Court reversed an expansive interpretation of “autodialer” adopted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that had fueled a firestorm of litigation against Cannabis businesses and other businesses and nonprofits, and that the Court noted would have prohibited even many commonplace uses of cell phones by consumers.
The Court found that for a dialing system to constitute an autodialer, it must have the capacity to either store or produce a telephone number using a random or sequential number generator. This narrower interpretation comes as a relief to a broad range of businesses, including cannabis businesses, that believed the Ninth Circuit’s broad interpretation unfairly ensnared legitimate communications practices that did not harm consumers.