In an interesting turn of events, the Federal government (those are the guys who classify marijuana as a scheduled 1 narcotic, therefore making it illegal nationwide) has sided with Colorado on upholding its marijuana laws, and against the two neighboring states that want the laws overturned.
Shortly after Colorado legalized marijuana, Nebraska and Oklahoma sued Colorado, and asked the Supreme Court to block the state’s legal marijuana system. Nebraska and Oklahoma claim the legalization of marijuana has created “a flood of modern bootleggers who are buying pot in Colorado and then illegally crossing state lines.” If the laws could be overturned, then the influx of marijuana in the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma would end, the lawmakers reasoned.
Nebraska and Oklahoma lawmakers are arguing that they can change the law of their neighboring state because marijuana remains completely illegal at the federal level.Oklahoma and Nebraska argue that Colorado’s marijuana system violates federal interstate commerce laws and the Controlled Substances Act.
“If states are free to disregard federal laws they don’t like, then our entire governmental structure is at risk,” stated Zachary Bolitho, law professor and former federal prosecutor with the Department of Justice who is in favor of Nebraska and Oklahoma’s suit. “What’s next? Could a state that doesn’t like the federal Clean Water Act pass a law authorizing the pollution of its waterways? Are congressional enactments simply suggestions that the states may accept or reject at their pleasure? That’s not how our system is supposed to work.”
However, Colorado contends that marijuana is legal inside the state only, and anyone who chooses to leave the state with marijuana is conducting an illegal activity. Colorado lawmakers believe the state itself shouldn’t be to blame for a private citizen’s legal or illegal actions, as the state of Colorado has no bearing on an individual’s decisions.
Colorado lawmakers have asked the court to throw out the lawsuit, and in turn, the Supreme Court has asked the federal government to weigh in, which it did this week.
The Obama administration told the Supreme Court that Oklahoma and Nebraska shouldn't be allowed to sue Colorado over its marijuana legalization “because the state itself isn't causing a direct injury to its neighbors.”
The administration filed a brief yesterday, which states:
Nebraska and Oklahoma essentially contend that Colorado's authorization of licensed intrastate marijuana production and distribution increases the likelihood that third parties will commit criminal offenses in Nebraska and Oklahoma by bringing marijuana purchased from licensed entities in Colorado into those states. But they do not allege that Colorado had directed or authorized any individual to transport marijuana into their territories in violation of their laws. Nor would any such allegation be plausible.
Supreme Court justices may decide within the next few weeks whether to allow the case to move forward. If the court declines the suit, Nebraska and Oklahoma could then take the case to a federal district court if they so choose.
So whose side are you on? Nebraska/Oklahoma, Colorado, or the Feds? Sound off below!
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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