The federal government has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to not get involved in a lawsuit over Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana.
Nebraska and Oklahoma have both filed a lawsuit against Colorado, claiming that the state’s legalization of marijuana is unconstitutional, and that it has had negative impacts on their own abilities to enforce their marijuana prohibition laws.
“The two states argue that marijuana legalization in Colorado has resulted in people from Oklahoma and Nebraska bringing marijuana over the border into their states,” Alexandra Sifferlin wrote in an article published by Time. “The two states sued Colorado and are requesting the Supreme Court to interfere and block Colorado’s system.”
After Colorado asked that the case be thrown out, the Supreme Court turned to the federal government for guidance. The government’s response to the Supreme Court was that they should stay out of it.
“Entertaining the type of dispute at issue here—essentially that one state’s laws make it more likely that third parties will violate federal and state law in another state—would represent a substantial and unwarranted expansion of this court’s original jurisdiction,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. wrote, according to USA Today.
Although Obama’s administration maintains its official stance regarding marijuana legalization—the White House’s website still says it “steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana”—pot activists see the federal government’s response to Oklahoma’s and Nebraska’s lawsuit as a significant win for the cannabis community.
In an article published by Colorado Public Radio, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project Mason Tvert said: “This is a meritless and, quite frankly, ludicrous lawsuit. We hope the court will agree with the solicitor general that it’s not something it should be spending its time addressing.”
The Drug Policy Alliance, a group advocating for less prohibitive drug laws, pointed out that the real problem is not Colorado somehow encouraging crime in other states, but the insistence in much of the country on devoting so many resources to maintaining ineffective and outdated prohibition laws.
“Nebraska and Oklahoma’s primary problems are their own punitive policies regarding marijuana use and possession,” Art Way, the group’s Colorado state director, told reporters at The Journal Star. “It is not Colorado’s fault these states look to spend such a high degree of law enforcement and judicial resources on marijuana prohibition.”
(Photo Credit: hightimes.com)