Federal Government Advises Supreme Court to Stay Out of States’ Marijuana Lawsuit

The federal government this week advised the Supreme Court to avoid weighing in on a lawsuit brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma over Colorado’s system of legalized recreational marijuana, according to USA Today.

Nebraska and Oklahoma, which border Colorado, say they are having trouble protecting their borders from the increased flow of marijuana, the article notes. The two states filed a lawsuit against Colorado with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking to block Colorado’s legal marijuana system. The states said Colorado’s law legalizing recreational marijuana is unconstitutional and places a burden on them.

The suit argues that because marijuana is illegal at the federal level, Colorado’s system violates federal interstate commerce laws and the Controlled Substances Act.

Colorado asked the court to throw out the case. Last spring, the Supreme Court asked for the Obama Administration’s view on the suit.

On Wednesday, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli filed a brief with the Supreme Court arguing that if the court took the case, it would “represent a substantial and unwarranted expansion” of the court’s original jurisdiction.

He said the Supreme Court usually avoids getting involved in disputes between states unless the states themselves are at odds. He noted Oklahoma and Nebraska have sued Colorado over the actions of private citizens who are breaking the law.

“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,” Verrelli wrote. “But they do not allege that Colorado has directed or authorized any individual to transport marijuana into their territories in violation of their laws. Nor would any such allegation be plausible.”

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    Richard M.

    December 17, 2015 at 1:04 PM

    This lawsuit is a great idea. And, while we’re at it, the 40 some other States and territories should go ahead and sue MO, MI, AL, TN, KN, IN, OH, GA, KS, SC, TX & IL for permitting and encouraging the production of automobiles, which directly contribute to the 32,000+ DUI auto accident deaths that occur each year on our streets and roads. DUI’s are illegal everywhere but would not occur if there were no vehicles. So let’s all join NE and OK in jumping on the frivolous and superfluous lawsuit bandwagon and sue those States where autos are made. It’ll save a lot of lives. Right?

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    John Byrom

    December 17, 2015 at 12:12 PM

    This is what the brief really means quoted from Kevin Sabet. Not a reporter putting the legalizers spin on the issue.

    “The brief only argues that the Supreme Court should not be the first court to hear the case, not that it should never be heard. It also in no way addresses whether marijuana should be legalized federally, or if states can legalize marijuana in light of federal drug laws”.

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