Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Nation's highest court turns down challenge to state pot laws

Posted By on Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 10:30 AM

One of the most potent challenges to legal pot has been struck down — at least for now.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Oklahoma and Nebraska seeking to strike down Colorado’s legal marijuana law. The lawsuit argued that Colorado's voter-approved ballot measure legalizing pot put it at odds with federal drug laws and that Nebraska and Oklahoma had become unduly burdened from marijuana spilling in from its neighbor.

“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,” reads a brief filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska. “If this entity were based south of our border, the federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel.”

Although legal pot advocates claimed victory, The Denver Post reports that Nebraska and Oklahoma still have the option to take their case to a lower federal court.

Idaho has much stricter pot laws than Washington and Oregon, which have both legalized the drug, but state officials haven't signaled they're preparing to take legal action against its neighbors. Nevertheless, proponents of relaxed drug laws in Washington breathed a sigh of relief. The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington applauded the court’s ruling in a statement:

“The ruling helps give states the space they need to pursue new approaches to marijuana policy. In Washington state, with the implementation of I-502 thousands of adults are no longer being arrested for possessing marijuana and millions in new tax revenue are being used for prevention and public health education. Efforts to undo this progress are shortsighted and would be counterproductive.”

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