Updates from our post, Marijuana for All? – The development of the lawsuit against Colorado by neighboring states, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
On March 27, 2015 Washington and Oregon joined Colorado in defending its recreational marijuana law. As many people know, Washington legalized recreational marijuana the same year as Colorado with their Initiative 502. They, like Colorado, have taken the legalization very seriously and have proven that legalization is working for the state. They are continuously working to pass legislation that will insure the success of the industry and the safety of the people.
Oregon became the third state to legalize recreational marijuana on November 4, 2014 with Measure 91. Because marijuana is still illegal on a federal level, it is classified as a Schedule I drug – putting it on the same plane as heroin and LSD. The governor of Oregon further stated how the United States government has failed regulation of the drug, “Our vote in Oregon, by the people, is a huge step forward for the rationalization of our failed drug policies. We’re going to celebrate the victory tonight and get to work on fixing federal policy in the morning.”
Following this mentality, they also have had many bills introduced this year. Here are the current bills pertaining to marijuana in Washington and Oregon:
In December of 2014, Oklahoma and Nebraska filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court stating that it is difficult for them to enforce a federal ban on marijuana with the substance entering their state because they boarder Colorado. They claim, “The state of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system.” Two main criticisms in the suit are that they do not require background checks for buyers and that they do not mandate that purchasers consume the substance where they purchase it. They also claim that Colorado reaps the benefits from the legalization with the tax revenue, while taxpayers in bordering states pay the cost through dealing with cross border in marijuana.
Here is a breakdown of Colorado and Washington’s expected tax revenue from marijuana.
Groups in favor of marijuana legalization say that the suits target the commercial aspect of the legalization and could potentially give criminal organizations more control over the industry once again.
The chief of police in Sydney, Nebraska told a television station that half of their traffic stops have now resulted in a marijuana arrest and that they have burned through their year overtime budget in six months because officers have to go to court to testify in marijuana prosecutions. A professor from the University of Denver said that the suit focuses mainly on the commercial sale and state regulation of pot, meaning that if it is successful, it possibly would only cause some shops to close. An attorney who was one of Amendment 64’s chief proponents, Brian Vicente, stated that this lawsuit is “largely without merit.”
On March 27th, 2015 the Colorado Attorney General’s office asked the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out this lawsuit. Cynthia Coffman, the Attorney General, stated that, “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.” Further, Tom Angell, the chairman of drug policy reform group Marijuana Majority, stated that this lawsuit could potentially put Colorado’s marijuana market “back into the hands of violent drug cartels and gangs.” They also believe that if the suit is in Oklahoma and Nebraska’s favor, it could aggravate the cross-boarder traffic issue instead of subdue it. Oregon and Washington officially joined Colorado on this day to defend its legal recreational marijuana.
More updates in the development in the suit to come.
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