States Ask Supreme Court To Find Colorado’s Marijuana Regulations Unconstitutional

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 18, 2014

    States Ask Supreme Court To Find Colorado’s Marijuana Regulations UnconstitutionalThe states of Nebraska and Oklahoma have asked the United States Supreme Court to issue a declaratory judgment finding that Colorado’s laws regulating the state-licensed production and sale of marijuana to adults violates the US Constitution.

    The suit, filed today by Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt, alleges that marijuana is being diverted into their states from Colorado, causing plaintiffs to suffer “irreparable injury.”

    The Attorney Generals contend in their suit: “Plaintiff States are suffering a direct and significant detrimental impact – namely the diversion of limited manpower and resources to arrest and process suspected and convicted felons involved in the increased illegal marijuana trafficking or transportation.”

    They are asking the Supreme Court to strike down Colorado’s law on the basis that it is “fundamentally at odds” with the federal Controlled Substances Act. They allege, “The diversion of marijuana from Colorado contradicts the clear Congressional intent, frustrates the federal interest in eliminating commercial transactions in the interstate controlled-substances market, and is particularly burdensome for neighboring states like Plaintiff States where law enforcement agencies and the citizens have endured the substantial expansion of Colorado marijuana.”

    They seek “a declaratory judgment stating that Sections 16(4) and (5) of Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution are preempted by federal law, and therefore unconstitutional and unenforceable under the Supremacy Clause, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.” The US Attorneys are also asking the State of Colorado “to pay the Plaintiff States’ costs and expenses associated with this legal action, including attorneys’ fees.”

    The suit does not ask for the Supreme Court to enjoin any other states’ laws regulating the production or dispensing of cannabis for either social or therapeutic purposes, though it is possible that the Court’s actions may have implications for those laws going forward. To date, four states have approved measures allowing for the regulated production and sale of cannabis to adults. Twenty-three states have approved measures allowing for the use of the plant for therapeutic purposes.

    Colorado Attorney General John Suthers responded to the suit, stating: “[I]t appears the plaintiffs’ primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado. We believe this suit is without merit and we will vigorously defend against it in the U.S. Supreme Court.”

    Commenting on the suit, NORML Legal Counsel Keith Stroup said, “This suit is more political theater than a serious legal challenge. These two conservative state attorneys general know they are losing this fight in the court of public opinion, so they are hoping the Supreme Court will intercede.”

    Stroup further noted that in recent days a majority of Congress approved language limiting the ability of the federal government to interfere in the implementation of state-sponsored marijuana regulatory schemes. He added: “The majority of Americans, including 55 percent of Colorado voters who endorsed this policy in 2012, support regulating cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol. The Attorney Generals pushing this lawsuit are not only out-of-step with existing public opinion and emerging political opinion, but they are also clearly on the wrong side of history.”

    87 responses to “States Ask Supreme Court To Find Colorado’s Marijuana Regulations Unconstitutional”

    1. Evening Bud says:

      Oklahoma and Nebraska–two bright red states. Gee, why am I not surprised. The only thing surprising is that Kansas, Wyoming and Utah haven’t joined in.

    2. Sam says:

      Ok so that’s a bunch of crap

    3. Sam says:

      Damn old people and their stupid views

    4. wbs101 says:

      Can someone please post links to these attorney general’s facebook and emails so we can message them? This really irritates me and we should let them know that. Hopefully they will lose their jobs with the coming election.

    5. SgtStorm says:

      What a wonderful Christmas present these two states have given to the legalization movement! Not only will this not work, it will, at a minimum, solidify cannabis legalization. Maybe even at the fed level. TY Nebraska and Oklahoma for forcing the feds to decide!

    6. Steven says:

      I find it incredibly hypocritical that states that shout for states rights and less federal government interference are the ones appealing to the federal government to interfere in what citizens of a particular state decided. There seems to be a severe lack of consistency in the viewpoints’ of some states and their officials.

    7. Anonymous says:

      I thought this was the United States of America not the divided states of America.

    8. TheSinnedAngel says:

      If those states are threatened by changes external to their borders, what are they going to do when Native American tribes start growing and selling within their borders?

    9. Brenton says:

      We should be glad to note that the Colorado Attorney General, along with his counterpart in Washington state, stand ready to defend the will of their constituents, a clear sign that the sky is not falling in recreational states. The solution for Oklahoma and Nebraska is to either seek help from federal authorities who are no longer able to tie up their resources in half of the country (therefore now having adequate manpower to assist them), or to hire more K-9 units of their own, either of which will hopefully lead voters in both states to the third and most logical option: follow suit with an amendment of their own legalizing marijuana, so that their own resources can be utilized in a more responsible capacity favoring the very principals of freedom enshrined in the Constitution which the very court they seek relief from is sworn to uphold.

    10. rascal says:

      Golly, I sure do appreciate them taking a stand and fighting the good fight to stop the spread of this evil pot legalization movement. Only trouble gunna come of it.

      Just can’t believe congress let the medical weed go without a fight. It’s awful I tell ya. Don’t want the kids getting into it. It’s very dangerous. I am okay with someone of age sipping a bourbon every now and again, pot is no good. Keep that mafia stuff illegal is what I say.

      Shoot, doing the pot make ya stupid and lazy. Everyone knows that. And it’s unconstitutional. People doing this drug should go straight to jail. Colorado and those other states are breaking the federal law and should be ashamed. We need to stop it including medical weed which makes no sense.