The Supreme Court stays out of it

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On Monday, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear the case brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado over its marijuana legalization law.

In 2012, Colorado voters legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana and also authorized the creation of state-administered rules that would allow stores to sell marijuana to anyone over the age of 21 years old.

In their argument, Oklahoma and Nebraska claimed the Colorado law created an increased law enforcement burden in neighboring states. The suit, filed by Nebraska Attorney General John Bruning and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, claims that federal marijuana prohibition preempts the law that Colorado voters decisively adopted.

The decision to dismiss is in line with a brief issued to the Supreme Court earlier this year from U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. stating, “Entertaining the type of dispute at issue here — essentially that one State’s laws make it more likely that third parties will violate federal and state law in another State — would represent a substantial and unwarranted expansion of this Court’s original jurisdiction.”

The court turned the case away in an unsigned opinion, but Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented. Writing for them both, Thomas says that the court should have taken the case because “the plaintiff states have made a reasonable case” and upholding that marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

“The complaint, on its face, presents a ‘controvers[y] between two or more States’ that this Court alone has authority to adjudicate,” Thomas continues. “The plaintiff States have alleged significant harms to their sovereign interests caused by another State. Whatever the merit of the plaintiff States’ claims, we should let this complaint proceed further rather than denying leave without so much as a word of explanation.”

Advocates for decriminalization from the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization that believes the war on drugs is a failure and drug problems should be treated as a health issue and not a crime, released a statement in support of the dismissal of the case.

“The Supreme Court’s rejection of this misguided effort to undo cautious and effective state-level regulation of marijuana is excellent news for the many other states looking to adopt similar reforms in 2016 and beyond. Other states are looking to what Colorado has accomplished — the drops in racially disparate arrests, the criminal justice dollars saved, and the tax revenue raised — and want to adopt similar marijuana law reforms.”

So, for now, the state’s industry is safe. Governor Hickenlooper, who publically disagrees with Colorado voters’ decision to legalize marijuana, nonetheless affirms their right to do so.

“Since Colorado voters overwhelming passed legal recreational marijuana in 2012, we have worked diligently to put in place a regulatory framework — the first in the world — that allows this new industry to operate while protecting public health and safety,” Hickenlooper writes in a recent release. “With [Monday’s] Supreme Court ruling, the work we’ve completed so far remains intact.”

Since implementing legalization in 2012, Colorado’s marijuana enforcement priority has been to push all illicit activity into legal and regulated spaces so that the industry, the public and regulators can understand and navigate cannabis legally and safely. This strategy was prompted from a 2013 memo issued by then Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole that outlined key priorities in federal enforcement in states where marijuana had been legalized. Included among those priorities was the prevention of diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal to other states where it is not.

While the Supreme Court has decided not to hear  the case, Nebraska and Oklahoma can still pursue it through other legal channels. Already the plaintiffs and their supporters are exploring alternative options.

In a statement from the office of Nebraska’s Attorney General, Doug Peterson writes that his office “is working with its partners in Oklahoma and other states to determine the best next steps toward vindicating the rule of law.”

Although marijuana is federally illegal, listed on the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I substance, this does not necessarily preclude individual states from allowing for the cultivation, possession or sale of marijuana. Four states and the District of Columbia have such laws and amendments in place and 23 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing medical marijuana.

As both the recreational and medical marijuana industries grow, the economic stakes involved in legal decisions at the federal level heighten. Estimates from ArcView Market Research projects that the legal cannabis industry will bring in over $21 billion dollars by 2020, putting investment dollars, small businesses, jobs and government tax revenue on the line in any future legal decisions. 

  • Brian Kelly

    Politicians who continue to demonize Marijuana, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose marijuana, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

    The People have spoken! Get on-board with Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

    • Brian Kelly

      The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

      Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

      The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

      Marijuana is much safer to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

      Even The President of the United States has consumed marijuana. Has it hurt his chances at succeeding in life? If he had gotten caught by the police during his college years, he may have very well still been in prison today! Beyond that, he would then be fortunate to even be able to find a minimum wage job that would consider hiring him with a permanent criminal record. Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

      The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less marijuana “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

      Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

      Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

      • Brian Kelly

        Fear of Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever. So please prohibitionists, we beg you to give your scare tactics, “Conspiracy Theories” and “Doomsday Scenarios” over the inevitable Legalization of Marijuana Nationwide a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?

        Furthermore, if all prohibitionists get when they look into that nice, big and shiny, crystal ball of theirs, while wondering about the future of marijuana legalization, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest they return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money they shelled out for it, since it’s obviously defective.

        The prohibition of marijuana has not decreased the supply nor the demand for marijuana at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.

        If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about “saving us all” from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

        Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize marijuana when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

        Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and/or practice a little live and let live. They’ll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Marijuana Laws.

        • Brian Kelly

          In the prohibitionist’s world, anybody who consumes the slightest amount of marijuana responsibly in the privacy of their own homes are “stoners” and “dopers” that need to be incarcerated in order to to protect society.

          In their world, any marijuana use equates to marijuana abuse, and it is their God given duty to worry about “saving us all” from the “evils” of marijuana use.

          Who are they to tell us we can’t choose marijuana, the safer choice instead of alcohol for relaxation, after a long, hard day, in the privacy of our own homes?

          People who consume marijuana are smart, honest, hard working, educated, and successful people too, who “follow the law” also.(except for their marijuana consumption under it’s current prohibition of course) .

          Not the stereotypical live at home losers prohibitionists make them out to be. They are doctors, lawyers, professors, movie stars, and politicians too.

          Several Presidents of The United States themselves, along with Justin Trudeau, Bill Gates, and Carl Sagan have all confessed to their marijuana use. As have a long and extensive list of successful people throughout history at one point or other in their lives.

          Although that doesn’t mean a dam thing to people who will make comments like “dopers” and “stoners” about anybody who uses the slightest amount of Marijuana although it is way safer than alcohol.

          To these people any use equals abuse, and that is really ignorant and full of hypocrisy. While our society promotes, advertises, and even glorifies alcohol consumption like it’s an All American pastime.

          There is nothing worse about relaxing with a little marijuana after a long hard day than having a drink or two of alcohol.

          So come off those high horses of yours. Who are you to dictate to the rest of society that we can’t enjoy Marijuana, the safer choice over alcohol, in the privacy of our own homes?

          We’ve worked real hard our whole lives to provide for our loved ones. We don’t appreciate prohibitionists trying to impose their will and morals upon us all.

          Has a marijuana consumer ever forced you to use it? Probably not. So nobody has the right to force anybody not to either.

          Don’t try to impose your morality and “clean living” upon everybody else with Draconian Marijuana Laws, and we won’t think you’re such prohibitionist hypocrites.

          Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

          • Brian Kelly

            There is absolutely no doubt now that the majority of Americans want to completely legalize marijuana nationwide. Our numbers grow on a daily basis.

            The prohibitionist view on marijuana is the viewpoint of a minority and rapidly shrinking percentage of Americans. It is based upon decades of lies and propaganda.

            Each and every tired old lie they have propagated has been thoroughly proven false by both science and society.

            Their tired old rhetoric no longer holds any validity. The vast majority of Americans have seen through the sham of marijuana prohibition in this day and age. The number of prohibitionists left shrinks on a daily basis.

            With their credibility shattered, and their not so hidden agendas visible to a much wiser public, what’s left for a marijuana prohibitionist to do?

            Maybe, just come to terms with the fact that Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think, and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

            Legalize Nationwide!…and Support All Marijuana Legalization Efforts!

          • Brian Kelly

            “Smoking marijuana is 114 times safer than drinking alcohol”

            http://rt.com/usa/234903-marijuana-safer-alcohol-deadly/

            “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say”

            “Marijuana may be even safer than previously thought, researchers say New study: We should stop fighting marijuana legalization and focus on alcohol and tobacco instead By Christopher Ingraham February 23

            Compared with other recreational drugs — including alcohol — marijuana may be even safer than previously thought. And researchers may be systematically underestimating risks associated with alcohol use.

            Those are the top-line findings of recent research published in the journal Scientific Reports, a subsidiary of Nature. Researchers sought to quantify the risk of death associated with the use of a variety of commonly used substances. They found that at the level of individual use, alcohol was the deadliest substance, followed by heroin and cocaine.”

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/02/23/marijuana-may-be-even-safer-than-previously-thought-researchers-say/

            “The report discovered that marijuana is 114 times less deadly than alcohol. Researchers were able to determine this by comparing the lethal doses with the amount of typical use. Through this approach, marijuana had the lowest mortality risk to users out of all the drugs they studied. In fact—because the numbers were crossed with typical daily use—marijuana is the only drug that tested as “low risk.”

            http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2015/02/scientific-reports-weed-114-safer-alcohol

  • YETI67

    The Reefer Madness morons continue to try to stuff the genie back into the bottle…
    Alcohol causes lots of problems and fatalities, why isn’t that illegal? Oh yeah…prohibition DOES NOT WORK, and even the stupidest government lackey knows it.