Last week, President Barack Obama urged the Supreme Court to reject a current lawsuit filed against the State of Colorado seeking to cease the legalization of recreational cannabis. The lawsuit comes from both Nebraska and Oklahoma claiming with Colorado having legalized recreational cannabis, there has been a surge in bootleggers going into Colorado and bringing back cannabis into Nebraska and Oklahoma where it, of course, is still illegal.
U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. filed a brief outlining why the case should be tossed aside.
“At most, they have alleged that third-party lawbreakers are inflicting those injuries, and that Colorado’s legal regime has made it easier for them to do so,” Verrilli said in the brief. If the Supreme Court were to accept the case, he said it “would represent a substantial and unwarranted expansion of this court’s original jurisdiction.”
Verralli also pointed out that Colorado only allows possession of up to one ounce of cannabis, which shouldn’t cause the two states “to suffer great loss or any serious injury in terms of law-enforcement funding or other expenditures.” The movement by Verralli to issue this brief shows a significant step for the federal government respecting a state and its residents’ choice. Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project thinks the lawsuit is ludicrous.
“We hope the court will agree with the solicitor general that it’s not something it should be spending its time addressing. These states are literally trying to prevent Colorado from controlling marijuana within its own borders,” Tvert told USA Today. “If officials in Nebraska and Oklahoma want to have a prohibition-fueled marijuana free-for-all in their states, that’s their prerogative. But most Coloradans would prefer to see marijuana regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.”
The move by President Obama garnered praise from Art Way, the Colorado state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a group whose sole focus is advocating for restriction on drug laws to be lessened.
“Nebraska and Oklahoma’s primary problems are their own punitive policies regarding marijuana use and possession,” Way said. “It is not Colorado’s fault these states look to spend such a high degree of law enforcement and judicial resources on marijuana prohibition.”