Supreme Court rejects challenge to Colorado pot law
Denver – — Marijuana is a political debate, not a legal one — for now.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday that it won’t consider a lawsuit filed by two other states challenging Colorado’s pot law. But lawyers say that Nebraska and Oklahoma officials could pursue other legal challenges down the road.
For now, the many states considering pot laws this year won’t have immediate guidance from the nation’s high court about whether they’re free to flout federal drug law by regulating the drug.
Instead, the 25 states and Michigan, and Washington, D.C., that allow marijuana for medical or recreational purposes don’t have any immediate roadblocks on their marijuana laws.
Nebraska’s attorney general said Monday that his state would consider trying again to challenge Colorado’s pot law, just not directly to the nation’s highest court.
“What it basically tells us is to go forth in the federal district court to start off the lawsuit,” Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson said.
A lawsuit by some Nebraska and Kansas law enforcement officials was dismissed last month by a federal court in Denver.
“It doesn’t mean that all the legal wrangling is done,” said Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver who studies drug law.
“It just means that for a case to end up before the Supreme Court before we have a new president is extremely unlikely.”
Marijuana legalization advocates immediately seized on the Supreme Court’s announcement as a signal that states are free to legalize marijuana if they wish.
“States have every right to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana, just as Nebraska and Oklahoma have the right to maintain their failed prohibition policies,” said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project.
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said that while Nebraska and Oklahoma chose the wrong legal approach, pot is very much a question in need of federal guidance.
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