It’s good to hear that despite the federal ban on cannabis, the current government under Barack Obama is supporting States that have legalized cannabis on their own. The Obama administration has recently weighed-in on the legal complaints levied by prohibitionist States that border States where cannabis is legal medically or for recreation.
Their position is, surprisingly, one that defends the State’s right to their own jurisdiction.
The message is surprising since the White House is officially against legalizing marijuana. But President Obama’s administration is taking a strong stand in defense of states that have created legal markets in their own jurisdictions.
Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a suit against Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court last year, arguing that Colorado’s legal market was in a violation of federal prohibition laws and was making it easier to transport marijuana across state lines.
The two neighboring states said that this is making it harder and more expensive for them to enforce their own laws prohibiting the sale and use of cannabis products.
But there’s simply no way to adjudicate lawsuits of this type. At least not yet, and hopefully, not ever.
In the brief filed to the nation’s top court, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. writes that Nebraska and Oklahoma aren’t alleging that Colorado “directly or indirectly” condoned the transportation of marijuana across state lines.
Therefore, this case has no place before the court, which does have the authority to adjudicate legitimate legal disputes between states.
“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,” wrote Verrilli.
Obama has already received praise from marijuana advocacy groups. Jolene Forman, staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance, commended the Obama administration for defending states’ rights in this case.
“We are pleased the DOJ (Department of Justice) agrees that this lawsuit borders on the frivolous,” Forman said in a press release. “States have historically been allowed to establish their own criminal laws.”