Marijuana legalization in Colorado went from pipe dream to reality in 2012 when the state voted to decriminalize weed. Since then, Oklahoma and Nebraska have been trying to reverse that — saying that Colorado’s legal weed negatively impacts their states.
“Because the people of Nebraska and Oklahoma have determined the marijuana is harmful and should be illegal, Nebraska and Oklahoma have a duty to protect their citizens from the continuing harms resulting from Colorado’s illegal activities.”
Neighboring states Nebraska and Oklahoma first joined together to combat marijuana legalization in 2014, when both state’s attorneys general filed a motion to make weed illegal in Colorado again. The Supreme Court is the first legal body to hear such disputes between states.
If successful, the measure would have dismembered Article XVIII of the state’s Constitution under the grounds of its violation of federal law, but only two Supreme Court judges agreed to hear the case. As a result, it was dropped, according to SCOTUSBlog.
After losing out there, Nebraska and Oklahoma have decided to take a different approach to killing Colorado’s budding marijuana industry. They are attempting to join an existing lawsuit that has made its way to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Lower courts have denied the case, saying that opponents cannot sue over Colorado violating federal law, reported Tulsa World.
Nebraska and Oklahoma are hoping to intervene on this case, but they did not immediately say what purpose they would serve. Appellate judges are not expected to decided if they can join the legal action against Colorado’s marijuana legalization until later this month, while it’s expected to be at least a year before the judges rule on the case at all.
As they battled against Colorado in the Supreme Court in 2015, both states condemned the legalization of marijuana for its so-called corrosive effects on society. Nebraska and Oklahoma contended that Colorado’s weed had created a massive national industry, facilitating the acquisition of the drug. In fact, they went as far as to describe the state’s booming marijuana business as a cartel, reported the New York Times.
“The State of Colorado authorizes, oversees, protects and profits from a sprawling $100-million-per-month marijuana growing, processing and retailing organization that exported thousands of pounds of marijuana to some 36 states in 2014. If this entity were based south of our border, the federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel.”
In response, Colorado defended its legalization of marijuana by arguing that it had actually taken the place of the cartel.
“Nebraska and Oklahoma concede that Colorado has power to legalize the cultivation and use of marijuana — a substance that for decades has seen enormous demand and has, until recently, been supplied exclusively through a multibillion-dollar black market. Yet the plaintiff states seek to strike down the laws and regulations that are designed to channel demand away from this black market and into a licensed and closely monitored retail system.”
Despite Colorado and Nebraska’s best efforts, marijuana legalization has spread from Colorado to three other states (Washington, Alaska and Oregon), as well as the District of Columbia. According to an April, 2015, Pew Research Center poll, support for legalizing the drug has risen to an all-time high of 53 percent. That’s up more than 20 percent than a decade ago, and 41 percent from when the center first asked the question in 1969.
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