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Okla., Neb. Sue Colo. Over Marijuana Law

By Brett Snider, Esq. on December 19, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Oklahoma and Nebraska are suing Colorado over its legalization of marijuana, and the U.S. Supreme Court gets to be the first court to hear it.

The complaint filed Thursday claims that under Colorado's new marijuana scheme, the state has created "a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system" and has allowed the drug to flow into neighboring states. According to The New York Times, law enforcement on the borders of Colorado have complained that marijuana arrests are stretching jail budgets too thin.

What is the legal argument against Colorado's law and why is this issue before the Supreme Court?

Federal Drug Law Pre-emption

Federal prosecutors have been taking a lax enforcement view of legalized marijuana in many cases, despite the fact that it is still illegal under federal law -- regardless of state legalization.

Both Oklahoma and Nebraska claim that Amendment 64, the Colorado law legalizing recreational marijuana in the Rocky Mountain State, is unconstitutional because it is pre-empted by federal drug law. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution makes federal law the ruling law of the land in matters which are under the federal government's control. The complaining states argue that pot regulation was well within the realm of the federal government, so the conflicting Amendment 64 must be struck down.

And why does this case get to go straight to the Supreme Court? The High Court has original jurisdiction over suits between two or more states, meaning it won't have to hear this pot case on appeal.

Oklahoma and Nebraska Sue Colorado Over Pot Law - Complaint by FindLaw

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