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Wednesday, July 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Nebraska & Oklahoma Challenge Colo. Pot Law in Supreme Court

(CN) - Colorado's legalization of marijuana is putting "stress" on neighboring states' criminal justice systems, Nebraska and Oklahoma said Thursday in a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The two states' attorneys general asked the Supreme Court for leave to challenge the constitutionality of Colorado's Amendment 64 and resulting statutes that legalized recreational marijuana use in Colorado.

the Centennial State.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, both Republicans, claim Colorado's laws violate of the Constitution's Supremacy Clause and the Controlled Substances Act.

"The scheme enacted by Colorado for retail marijuana is contrary and obstructive to the CSA and U.S. treaty obligations," the complaint states. "The nation's anti-drug laws reflect a well-established - and carefully considered and constructed - balance of national law enforcement, foreign relations, and societal priorities."

Bruning announced the lawsuit at a news conference in Lincoln.

"This contraband has been heavily trafficked into our state," Bruning said. "While Colorado reaps millions from the sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost."

Pruitt said in a statement that the lawsuit was filed to "protect the health and safety of Oklahomans."

The 83-page complaint claims there are no safeguards to ensure that marijuana bought from state-approved dispensaries will be consumed in Colorado, and that this will continue "undermining plaintiff states' own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems."

Law enforcement officers in western counties of Nebraska have reported a sharp rise in felony marijuana cases this year. Along with that comes an increase in the cost to house, feed and care for prisoners. The attorneys general say it also contributes to increased burglaries and other crimes.

"In passing and enforcing Amendment 64, the State of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system," the lawsuit states.

The states want Colorado enjoined from enforcing Amendment 64 and ordered to recriminalize the sale and possession of marijuana.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, also a Republican, said a challenge from his counterparts was expected.

"Because neighboring states have expressed concern about Colorado-grown marijuana coming into their states, we are not entirely surprised by this action," Suthers said in a statement. "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."

Colorado opened dispensaries for medical marijuana in 2009 and voters approved Amendment 64 in the 2012 general election.

Licensed stores opened for business in Colorado in January this year.

Marijuana remains classified as an illicit drug under federal laws and in the six states that border Colorado.

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