Legal marijuana in Colorado challenged by neighboring states
April 28, 2015
Two states neighboring Colorado have filed a joint lawsuit against the state in an effort to invalidate the laws governing the legalization of marijuana.
According to the lawsuit, Oklahoma and Nebraska claim that there has been a flood of marijuana into their states. The states claim that the flood of marijuana has led to law enforcement agencies being thinned out and threats to their sovereignty.
In a brief filed against the lawsuit by Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, it was argued that the marijuana black market would strengthen if the lawsuit is allowed to continue.
Coffman wrote in the brief that the marijuana retail stores in Colorado have been licensed in an effort to move marijuana away from the black market. She also argued that if the laws were defeated, marijuana would be legal, but there would be no laws in place to regulate the supply of the drug.
Coffman is not the only author listed on the brief. She is joined by the state’s solicitor general and four other lawyers from the Attorney General’s office.
The lawsuit filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska was done so directly with the United States Supreme Court. The reason for filing directly with the Supreme Court is that it involves a dispute between two or more states in the union.
The Supreme Court has yet to decide if it will take up the case, which is required prior to a hearing being scheduled, and there is no timetable on when a decision will be made.
The lawsuit does not challenge the overall legalization of marijuana in Colorado. Instead, Oklahoma and Nebraska claim that the licensing of retail stores has created a gap in the federal government’s system of drug control.
The lawsuit argues that the flow of marijuana into Oklahoma and Nebraska undermine the bans on the drug in those states and causes extra stress on the criminal justice systems in those states.
Coffman originally opposed the legalization of marijuana in Colorado. This is the first time that state officials in Colorado have had to fully argue in favor of the laws that legalize marijuana in the state.
Coffman agrees with the concerns of Oklahoma and Nebraska, saying that she is concerned about the illegal trafficking of marijuana. She notes in the brief that Colorado law enforcement agencies are still taking traffickers into custody. She cites the indictments of 32 people who were charged with illegally growing marijuana in Colorado and planning to traffick it out of state.
This lawsuit is just one of four filed against the legalization of marijuana in the state of Colorado, but the first filed with the Supreme Court. The other three have been filed with the federal district court in the city of Denver.