The Solicitor General, the top lawyer in the United States, and his team passed down a written recommendation to the Supreme Court that the case against Colorado’s cannabis legalization law be dismissed. The lawsuit, filed by neighboring states Nebraska and Oklahoma in 2014, claimed that Amendment 64 infringes the U.S. Constitution’s supremacy clause.
Donald B. Verrilli, the Solicitor General, is the third highest ranking official in the Department of Justice, and the lawyer chosen to represent the federal government in front of the Supreme Court. The brief recommending the case against legalization in Colorado not be heard by the Supreme Court was filed on Wednesday December 16.
The brief, which references several previous cases of precedent to backup his decision, explains that this is not the type of case that the Supreme Court should address first. A case such as this should first be heard by a district court.
The brief states:
“The motion for leave to file a bill of complaint should be denied because this is not an appropriate case for the exercise of this Court’s original jurisdiction.”
It continues, “The Court’s exercise of original jurisdiction is also unwarranted in this case because the preemption issue could be raised in a district-court action.”
Tom Angell, long time activist and founder of the Marijuana Majority commented,
“This is the right move by the Obama administration. Colorado and a growing number of states have decided to move away from decades of failed prohibition laws, and so far things seem to be working out as planned. Legalization generates tax revenue, creates jobs and takes the market out of the hands of drug cartels and gangs.”
This recommendation by the DOJ will likely impact the Supreme Court’s decision.
Oklahoma City | Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has just received another round of pushback from his decision to sue the state of Colorado for legalizing marijuana. Back in December, Attorney Generals from Oklahoma and Nebraska filed a suit against the state of Colorado citing Colorado’s responsibility to keep marijuana leaving the state with out-of-state residents.
This week, Oklahoma protesters gathered outside of Pruitt’s office in protest of his lawsuit. The protesters are upset with Pruitt, a champion of states’ rights, for going back on one of his core beliefs in the suit against Colorado. Chelsea Kennedy, who organized the rally said, “States have the right to govern themselves and Scott Pruitt, while claiming to support the Constitution, is clearly violating it.”
A spokesman for AG Pruitt issued this statement in response to the protest:
“To be clear, the lawsuit filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska does not challenge in any manner or form Colorado’s legalization of marijuana for use and possession in that state. Rather, the lawsuit filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska challenges only the portion of Colorado’s law that legalized the commercialization of marijuana because those actions by Colorado have led to an influx of illegal drugs entering surrounding states like Oklahoma in violation of our state laws.”
The proclaimed increase in illegal drug activity was dismissed by Oklahoma Rep. Mike Ritze who said, “We’re searching for a non-problem. I’m looking at data, and it’s not there.”
The protest came just days after other Oklahoma lawmakers issued their disapproval of the Attorney General’s lawsuit. Ritze who loudly opposes AG Pruitt said, “If the people of Colorado want to end prohibition of marijuana, while I may personally disagree with the decision, constitutionally speaking, they are entitled to do so.”
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. 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.
Jon Bruning, Nebraska’s Attorney General is leading the brigade. In a press conference in Lincoln, Bruning explained reasoning behind the lawsuit,
“This contraband has been heavily trafficked into our state. While Colorado reaps millions from the sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost.”
The federal government does not have the resources to go after every case of state marijuana law violations, so the Cole Memorandum was drafted in compromise. The memorandum lists eight rules for states with legal marijuana, whether for medicinal or recreational use, must follow in order to avoid federal law enforcement. According the the Cole Memorandum, the federal government will allow states to enforce their own legalization laws as long as the states are able to demonstrate efforts to enforce the following criteria:
- Preventing minors from accessing cannabis
- Preventing cannabis sale revenue from reaching criminal cartels
- Preventing cannabis from reaching outside of the state in which it is legal
- Preventing cannabis sales from being used as a cover for other illegal activity
- Preventing gun violence related to marijuana sales
- Preventing driving under the influence of cannabis
- Preventing marijuana from being grown on public lands
- Preventing marijuana possession and use on federal property
Oklahoma and Nebraska Attorney Generals filed the suit because they feel Colorado is failing to uphold the third item of the agreement because cannabis is crossing state lines.
Colorado Attorney General, John Suthers, is not surprised by the lawsuit, as he has already fielded complaints from both neighboring states involved. Suthers released a statement exclaiming that Colorado will defend the voter approved amendment to the state constitution.