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Supreme Court Dismisses Case by Nebraska & Oklahoma Challenging Colorado Laws


July 6, 2016

As legalization laws continue to pass across the country, there will probably be a number of parties who attempt to challenge these laws. Although that’s expected, few thought that two states would be the party on the other end of a lawsuit—and that it would involve the Supreme Court. But, that’s just what has happened with Nebraska, Oklahoma and Colorado.

Usually, the Supreme Court only hears cases that were tried in front of lower courts and appealed; however, they are also required to hear any case involving a dispute between states such as this one.

Nebraska and Oklahoma, the two plaintiffs in this case, challenged whether it was legal for Colorado to legalize recreational marijuana. The states argued that marijuana from Denver marijuana dispensaries was flowing across state borders and into their territory, where the substance is still against the law. Nebraska and Oklahoma stated that the increase of marijuana was putting a strain on their criminal justice systems, since more people were being arrested for possessing and selling marijuana that was legally obtained in Denver marijuana dispensaries. These two bordering states were attempting to have the Supreme Court rule that Colorado violated federal law by legalizing marijuana.

Colorado fought back against the claims to protect the new freedoms found in places such as Denver marijuana dispensaries. The state argued that the recent move by the federal government to stop enforcing marijuana laws in states that have legalized medicinal or recreational marijuana shows that federal government should not have a say in a state’s legalization laws. Colorado used the Ogden Memorandum, which de-prioritized the use of federal resources in enforcing marijuana laws in states that passed legalization laws, as an example to support their argument. Because the federal government appeared to be bowing out of the fight against legalization, Colorado attempted to prove that the state and federal laws were now working in harmony, not against each other as Nebraska and Oklahoma claimed.

Denver marijuana dispensaries were on edge waiting for the outcome of the case. The Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General to represent the views of the federal government and in December 2015, he filed a brief recommending that the Supreme Court deny hearing the case. He wrote that “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[s] in another State – would represent a substantial and unwarranted expansion of [the Supreme Court’s] original jurisdiction.”

In the end, the Supreme Court agreed with the Solicitor General and did not allow Nebraska and Oklahoma to present their cases. The Court did not give an explanation as to why they denied hearing the case, although it could have been based on the recommendation of the Solicitor General.

Because the Supreme Court declined to hear this case, Denver marijuana dispensaries are still legal! Come by Altitude Dispensary, your go-to dispensary in Denver, where our knowledgeable budtenders can help you find the right medical or recreational product to suit your needs. Contact us at Altitude Dispensary for more information today.
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