This post was originally published on The New York Times by Vikas Bajaj on March 21, 2016
The Supreme Court has sensibly decided not to take a case brought by Nebraska and Oklahoma challenging the way in which Colorado legalized marijuana. The plaintiff states had a weak case backed up with little in the way of evidence.
Nebraska and Oklahoma had argued that marijuana grown and processed in Colorado was being trafficked into their states and was causing crime and other problems. But the states could not back up their allegations with data. The case was largely based on the states’ apprehension about Colorado’s regulated marijuana market, which its residents authorized through a ballot measure in 2012.
As it often does, the Supreme Court declined to give a reason for not taking the case. Two justices, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, issued a dissent, writing that Nebraska and Oklahoma deserved to have their case heard because they “have alleged significant harms to their sovereign interests caused by another State.” The court takes a case if at least four justices say they want to consider it.
The court was right to reject the case because Nebraska and Oklahoma could not establish that Colorado had directly harmed them, as solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, Jr., argued in a brief on behalf of the Obama administration. Colorado cannot be held responsible for the actions of individuals who decide to take marijuana into other states. The state does take reasonable steps to prevent trafficking and thwart the black market by, for example, limiting purchases of the substance to one ounce at a time.
Those policies, however, were not good enough for Nebraska and Oklahoma, which made some truly odd and incendiary allegations in their attempt to get the court to take their case. In one of their briefs, the states compared Colorado to a drug cartel, arguing that the federal government would have prosecuted the state if it “were based south of our border.” Such silly statements probably only undermined the appeal of the state’s case to most justices.
If you are charged with any drug crime from simple possession to more serious charges of drug trafficking or racketeering, then call the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Sebald, Hackwelder, & Knox Law Firm, in Erie, PA. Our drug crime attorneys are recognized leaders in fighting drug crimes at both the state and federal level throughout Erie, PA.