Legalization of pot in Colorado Brought to Supreme Court
The great marijuana experiment in Colorado faces a serious constitutional challenge. Two states Nebraska and Oklahoma are asking the Supreme court do decide a case of original jurisdiction. This means that the federal court system has exclusive jurisdiction to hear the case. The issue centers around the supremacy clause, the mechanism in US law that dictates that where a federal law and state law come into conflict the state law is always invalid in favor of the federal law. Here, while the justice department has decided to not pursue the legal marijuana being sold under state law in Colorado (and Washington) the federal law still classifies asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decide an original jurisdiction lawsuit that seeks to invalidate Colorado’s legalization of marijuana under the supremacy clause.
According to the American Bar Association Journal: “The suit alleges that Colorado’s law has no safeguards to ensure marijuana is not trafficked to other states.”
In the suit the state states claim:
“The state of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system enacted by the United States Congress,” the suit alleges. “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.”
In a statement to Law Blog Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the suit is without merit, “The plaintiffs’ primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado”.
What this case will mean for the burgeoning legal marijuana industry is unclear. It is possible all of the progress that has been made by legalization advocates over the past few years. The whole great experiment in legalization may hing on a constitutional technicality, albeit and important one, that is opposed to even the white houses current policy. We shall see.