USA Today: Nebraska, Oklahoma Sue Colorado Over Legalized Marijuana

The attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma sued Colorado in the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday, arguing state-legalized marijuana from Colorado is improperly spilling across state lines, 9News is reporting.

The suit invokes the federal government’s right to regulate both drugs and interstate commerce, and says Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana has been “particularly burdensome” to police agencies on the other side of the state line, according to the 9News story, written by Trevor Hughes of USA Today.

In June, USA TODAY highlighted the flow of marijuana from Colorado into small towns across Nebraska: felony drug arrests in Chappell, Neb., just seven miles north of the Colorado border have skyrocketed 400 percent in three years.

“In passing and enforcing Amendment 64, the state of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system enacted by the United States Congress. Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining plaintiff states’ own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems,” the lawsuit states.

“The Constitution and the federal anti-drug laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local pro-drug policies and licensed distribution schemes throughout the country which conflict with federal laws.”

In a statement, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said he wasn’t “entirely surprised” by the lawsuit, but said Nebraska and Oklahoma are attacking the wrong people, according to 9News.

“Because neighboring states have expressed concern about Colorado-grown marijuana coming into their states, we are not entirely surprised by this action,” said Suthers. “However, it 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.”

One thought on “USA Today: Nebraska, Oklahoma Sue Colorado Over Legalized Marijuana

  1. In any suit, the plaintiff must show how it has been harmed, must show standing in the court and must show why the defendant is legally required to act. Both legal arguments have been covered and the U.S. Constitution establishes standing but the issue of harm has not been covered.

    Are the two plaintiff states enforcing federal laws or state laws? Neither the Constitution nor the recent statement by the U.S. Attorney General require the states to enforce federal drug laws and they could cease or reduce participation.

    If they are enforcing state laws or if their Attorneys General (assumed to represent their citizens) choose to enforce federal laws then states must do so at their own expense. Can the plaintiffs clarify that?

    The remaining and less expensive underground market for marijuana and derivatives in all states dwarfs the new amateur participants as well as those who transport for personal use. Newcomers who purchase from retail sources, divert from regulated growers or hide unregulated growers among the regulated ones cannot constitute a significant proportion of total seizures or total costs. Can the plaintiffs supply those numbers?

    It is possible that the states already benefit from an increase in value of property seized from those that they apprehend and are attempting to double-dip by deflecting their cost of doing so.

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