Supreme Court Dismissed Efforts to Reverse Legal Pot in Colorado, but Nebraska AG Vows It's Not Over

By Victoria Kim 04/08/16

Oklahoma and Nebraska still plan to pursue the issue despite the lawsuit being dropped.  

Supreme Court Throws Out Marijuana Lawsuit Against Colorado by Surrounding States
Photo via Shutterstock

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma that tried to reverse Colorado's marijuana legalization law. But it's not over just yet. On Tuesday, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson confirmed that the plaintiff states, Colorado's neighbors to the east, are working to figure out their next move.

Nebraska and Oklahoma filed the lawsuit in 2014, claiming Colorado did not have the authority to establish “its own policy that is directly counter to federal policy against trafficking in controlled substances” and that by legalizing cannabis, it “created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system.” In 2012, Colorado voters approved recreational cannabis—allowing stores to sell up to an ounce of marijuana to Colorado residents over 21, or a quarter ounce to any adult from out of state—making it one of the first states to legalize marijuana in the U.S. (Washington state also legalized marijuana that year.)

The lawsuit claimed the drug—which is now legal in four U.S. states (Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington) and the District of Columbia—is flowing into neighboring states, undermining their own marijuana bans and putting an increased burden on their law enforcement. 

In a statement posted by Peterson in March, the attorney general made it clear that the plaintiff states do not intend to let this one go. And this Tuesday, after testifying in a Senate hearing (about how the Obama administration's lax marijuana enforcement has "created great havoc"), he again confirmed that Nebraska, Oklahoma "and other states" are working on a plan B. "There will be a next step," he assured reporters after the hearing.

As the states are now weighing their options, they may consider bringing the case to a lower federal court, according to Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority. But their resources could be better utilized for something other than fighting to uphold marijuana prohibition, he says. “While the plaintiffs have said they’re considering refiling this case in lower federal courts, what they should really do is focus on changing their states’ outdated marijuana prohibition laws,” Angell tells The Fix

“Instead of spending more taxpayer resources in a futile effort to stop our movement’s momentum, Nebraska and Oklahoma should join Colorado in legalizing marijuana so they can actually generate new tax revenue and create jobs for their residents,” says Angell.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr

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