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Colorado Strikes Back Against Nebraska And Oklahoma’s Marijuana Lawsuit

Colorado replied Friday to the lawsuit Nebraska and Oklahoma filed last year against the state’s legal marijuana. Oregon and Washington joined in, filing a joint brief in support of Colorado.

“My office remains committed to defending Colorado’s law,” Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman said in a press release. “At the same time, I share our border states’ concerns regarding illegal marijuana activity, and my office, as well as our partner state and local law enforcement agencies, are committed to stopping marijuana diversion. This lawsuit, however, even if successful, won’t fix America’s national drug policy—at least not without leadership from Washington, D.C., which remains noticeably absent.”

The two states are not objecting to medical marijuana, but rather legal marijuana.

Coffman is asking for the Supreme Court to toss out the suit. The argument from officials in Nebraska and Oklahoma has been that marijuana continues to leak into their states, causing a spat of marijuana-related arrests and an increase in enforcement costs. Felony drug arrests in the south of Nebraska have jumped by 400 percent.

For lawyers representing those two states, this arrangement is not only unacceptable, but Colorado’s Amendment 64 violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Nebraska and Oklahoma want Amendment 64 struck down. (RELATED: Nebraska And Oklahoma Join Forces To Strike Down Colorado’s Legal Marijuana)

In late February, all nine former Drug Enforcement Administration chiefs piled on, electing to support Nebraska and Oklahoma in the legal fight with an amici curiae brief. According to the chiefs, legal marijuana is harming neighboring states and draining precious law enforcement resources. (RELATED: Former DEA Chiefs Freak Over Legal Weed)

On the other side, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Colorado. Washington, a state which also permits legal marijuana, stands to lose a considerable amount if the Supreme Court takes up the case. Ferguson is arguing that the main reason the Supreme Court should reject the case is due to the court’s own policies. Usually, states are left to their own devices unless a dispute arises over sovereign interests, like “competing claims to land or water.”

“In their filings, these states make the important point that only legalization allows for control and regulation of the marijuana market,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “If Nebraska and Oklahoma succeed with this misguided lawsuit, it will only put the market back into the hands of violent drug cartels and gangs. If they really want to stop illicit trafficking and cut enforcement costs, as they say in their lawsuit, they too will move to end prohibition one day. They should do that sooner rather than later, and in the meantime should at least stop trying to prevent other states from enacting effective, modern marijuana policies.”

Nebraska and Oklahoma now have two weeks to respond. At this stage, the Supreme Court will only determine whether it will accept or reject the case for consideration.

Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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