The Governor of Utah Gary Herbert said that his state will not join in the lawsuit against Colorado for legalizing marijuana put forth by Oklahoma and Nebraska.
“We have no plans to sue Colorado. I know others are concerned about that.”
Gov. Herbert said following the State of the States address in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. Something of concern were the comments following, “That is our position of today,” leaving the door wide open for the state to change it’s mind.
As we reported the other day, some of the largest corporations in Utah are already refusing to do business with marijuana related entities.
(President Obama with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on January 6 in DC.)
“The concern for some is we have a Colorado law that is contrary to a federal law and that’s not being enforced. So there are some issues there that in fact need to be resolved, and I expect over time they will be,” Herbert said.
Herbert went on to detail that his state had legalized the use of a cannabis extract for use in treating children with forms of epilepsy.
“We’re trying to take parts that make the sense to Utah and avoid others we think maybe would be pushing in a direction that’s probably not warranted for our young people,” he elaborated.
With recent news of several Oklahoma lawmakers asking OK Attorney General to drop the lawsuit and reluctance for other state’s to join – we can only hope this is beginning of the end for this frivolous lawsuit.
Photo Credit: DeseretNews
It seems that not every politician in Oklahoma wants to go along with the recent lawsuit against Colorado for legalizing recreational marijuana. On December 31, seven lawmakers sent a 3 page letter to Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, asking him to drop the lawsuit against Colorado.
“This is not about the legalization of marijuana,” said Mike Ritze, the state representative in Oklahoma’s 80th District who authored the letter. “It’s about states’ rights.”
The lawsuit being lead by Oklahoma, with Nebraska as a co-plaintiff, states that “the State of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system… 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.”
The lawsuit was filed with U.S. Supreme Court in the middle of December last year, but the Court has yet to respond. It might be years before they even accept or reject the motion.
“We’re searching for a non-problem. I’m looking at data, and it’s not there.”
Ritze is not just some random state representative. He serves as chair of the Oklahoma House Public Health Committee and is a state-certified surgeon and physician. Co-signers include Oklahoma state representatives Lewis Moore, John Bennett, Mike Christian and Dan Fisher as well as state senators Ralph Shortey and Nathan Dahm.
To be clear, the lawmakers who signed the letter to the Attorney General are not voicing their support for marijuana legalization in Colorado, but they are voicing their disapproval of the lawsuit. The letter states that the lawsuit is the wrong way to go about solving the problem. A lawsuit like this presents potential issues for states’ rights, the Tenth Amendment, and the ability of states and it’s citizens to govern as they see fit.
Attorney General Pruitt responded to the letter by saying that the lawsuit only challenges a ‘portion’ of Amendment 64, and he would take the lawsuit off the table the moment he felt states’ rights were at risk.
“The representative is right to be concerned about any effort by a state to challenge the authority of another state to legalize marijuana within its own borders,” Pruitt told The Cannabist via email. “I appreciate his concern, and I agree with him. However, Oklahoma’s lawsuit does not challenge in any manner or form Colorado’s legalization of marijuana for use and possession for intrastate purposes.”
Pruitt continued, “Rather, we are challenging only that portion of Colorado’s law that does invoke our states’ rights: the interstate trafficking of an illegal drug under Oklahoma law. We will continue to work with the representative and others to ensure this critical distinction is communicated so as to hopefully address any confusion over the lawsuit’s objectives.”
The impromptu lawsuit came as a surprise to many, and as a result, many are now questioning it’s true motives. Ritze notes a lack of a basic dialogue between states and statistical analysis of the impact of the marijuana ‘flowing into state.’
“The first thing we should do: Sit down and talk,” said Ritze. “Do we really have a problem? We polled our state narcotics bureau and the highway patrol and the people in narcotics interdiction, and none of them said the Attorney General had asked them about (the issue). We’re searching for a non-problem. I’m looking at data, and it’s not there.”
To back up Ritze’s claims, examining the lawsuit reveals a massive lack of statistical methodology or hard data backing up the allegations that Colorado’s legal marijuana is ‘draining their treasuries.’
“We’re opposed to the legalization of marijuana, and we think Colorado made a bad decision in legalizing it,” Ritze clarified. “But after reading the lawsuit, there were three or four areas that we had deep concerns about, including telling another state what to do when it’s really none of our business.”
Photo Credit: KOTV
As you might know, the Attorney Generals’ in Oklahoma and Nebraska filed a lawsuit last week against the state of Colorado for legalizing recreational marijuana. The lawsuit claims Amendment 64 is a ‘dangerous law’ that violates the Controlled Substances act of 1970. Since the announcement, the MPP, NCIA and other professional cannabis organizations have called the lawsuit “meritless” and “on the wrong side of history.”
While I couldn’t agree more, I still wondered – exactly who are these two attorney generals leading this crusade against marijuana? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not exceedingly familiar with either of these elected officials, nor each states’ politics. I only knew of both having a reputation of being on the red side of the political line. With that in mind, I went digging for some more information about these gents. The following facts are probably unknown to those living outside of the respective states.
Jon Bruning – NE
Nebraska’s Attorney General has accepted over $86,000 from the alcohol industry in last 4 years.
He has taken more than $10,000 in political donations from Monsanto, and voiced his support for the corporation multiple times.
He does not tolerate people on welfare. In 2011 Bruning was quoted as saying, “The raccoons figured out the beetles are in the bucket… “And it’s like grapes in a jar. The raccoons, they’re not stupid, they’re gonna do the easy way if we make it easy for them.” referring to welfare recipients.
As the main legal adviser for the Nebraska state government, he lost $725,000 of state money (10% of the AG annual budget) in a controversial patent lawsuit.
Bruning made the decision to waive Nelnet’s settlement lawsuit, later revealing that multiple people from Nelnet had donated to his campaign.
Nebraska is one of two states without a prescription monitoring program. This fact is not specific to Mr. Bruning but, it is still relevant information.
Alcohol, big agriculture and a thriving prescription black market combine to form a deadly triple-threat.
Scott Pruitt – OK
Recent NY Times piece revealed Pruitt’s extreme backdoor dealings with the energy industry.
He’s really not a fan of gay marriage or abortion.
Pruitt has sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency multiple times, citing “a war on fossil fuels” as the reason.
As the main legal adviser for the state of Oklahoma, he has accepted campaign contributions from the following companies: Advance Cash America, American Cash Express, Phillip Morris, Koch Industries, Exxonmobil, and many other corporations with less-than-upstanding reputations.
Thanks to the fine folks at FollowTheMoney.org for sourcing all this data and making it really easy to create this logo montage of companies that have donated to one or both of the gents in question.
Oklahoma and Nebraska are calling for the United States Supreme Court to overrule Colorado’s voter approved Amendment 64, the initiative that legalized recreational marijuana in the state because they claim legal Colorado cannabis is crossing state lines. The lawsuit was filed Thursday, stating that the legalization amendment infringes the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause, which establishes federal law as the winner should there ever be a conflict with state law.
Do you want to show your support for Colorado’s right to state legalization? Click here to sign the petition on Chang.org, courtesy of the Marijuana Policy Project. The petition is “calling on Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to withdraw the lawsuit and end their crusade to maintain marijuana prohibition.”
photo credit: Change.org