Federal Lawsuit On Marijuana Constitutionality Could Be A Gamechanger

| by Edward Arnold

On Thursday, the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court against the state of Colorado.

Its grounds consist of a claim that Colorado's legalization of recreational marijuana is unconstitutional because the federal government bans the use of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning will use the U.S. Constitution's Supreme Clause to argue that federal law takes precedence over state law. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt argues that Colorado's legalization of marijuana is hurting his state.

"The illegal products being distributed in Colorado are being trafficked across state lines thereby injuring neighboring states like Oklahoma and Nebraska.,” Pruitt said.

Colorado's approved amendment passed in 2012 and took effect in January of 2014. Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon are the only four states to legalize recreational use of marijuana, along with Washington D.C.

The lawsuit comes two days after a Los Angeles Times report that deep inside the 1,603-page spending bill is a provision that will de-fund the department of Justice from enforcing the federal ban on marijuana in states that legalized medical marijuana.

The text reads,

“None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

With no funding to stop marijuana cultivation in states where weed is legal, such as Colorado, states like Nebraska and Oklahoma fear the growth of the drug will escalate. The lawsuit is an avenue for anti-marijuana advocates to possibly produce a federal decision that limits a state's right to chose its marijuana laws.

Despite the lack of federal funding to stop marijuana, the same spending bill will block the implementation of the recently passed recreational use of marijuana in Washington D.C.

Mason Tvert, a communications director for Marijuana Policy Project, told the Huffington Post he is against the lawsuit brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma.

"Nebraska officials are acting like bullies, and they have no business trying to dictate Colorado's marijuana laws," says Tvert. "They are wasting their taxpayers’ dollars by filing this suit and forcing Coloradans to pick up the bill for defending our state against it. Colorado's top law enforcement officials have better things to do and you’d think Nebraska’s would, as well. These guys are on the wrong side of history."

While this lawsuit does point at compelling marijuana issues, the main concern this lawsuit brings is the power of state's rights and the Constitution. The decision of this case could be a monumental decision that could either pave the way for marijuana legalization as a fundamental state choice or protect the federal government's universal interference on marijuana.

Source: Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Find Law / Photo Credit: WWLP