Anti-Marijuana Group Wants Legalization Gone, Sues Colorado And Businesses

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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A Washington, D.C. group is preparing to file suit against Colorado in federal court, alleging that state officials are promoting the commercialization of marijuana, which violates federal law.

In terms of relief, the group, called Safe Streets, is asking the court to prevent licenses from being issued to dispensaries which, it says, “deal illegal drugs,” The Washington Post reports. Safe Streets also intends to target industry leaders in Colorado and sue them under federal racketeering laws. The allegation is that private plaintiffs have been injured by the “operations of a commercial drug conspiracy,” and so companies not only must cease activity immediately, but also owe significant damages. Safe Streets did not provide further details as to which companies it has in mind.

James Wootton, chairman of the two-decades-old organization, previously worked in the Reagan administration. He is adamant that because the United States has a treaty with many other countries to keep marijuana illegal, the experiment in Colorado, which voters approved in 2012, is definitively wrong.

This isn’t the first time Colorado’s legalization experiment has been attacked. In December 2014, Nebraska and Oklahoma filed suit with the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to challenge the constitutionality of legal cannabis, arguing that the marijuana leaking into neighboring states is in direct contradiction with the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. (RELATED: Nebraska And Oklahoma Join Forces To Strike Down Colorado’s Legal Marijuana)

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead is also mulling over a lawsuit against Colorado, albeit under the grounds that federal government inaction is a violation of states’ rights. As Mead argues, only Congress has the authority to change the laws regarding marijuana, and the federal government doesn’t have the option of washing its hands while states openly choose to violate federal drug laws. (RELATED: Wyoming Governor Ponders Lawsuit, Furious At Feds For Not Enforcing Marijuana Laws)

Colorado hasn’t wavered in its stance, promising to fight the suit from Nebraska and Oklahoma.

But the lawsuit in this case is somewhat speculative. As Sam Kamin, a professor of law at the University of Denver, writes, the lawsuit is a trailblazer, and as such the traditional question of whether Safe Streets even has standing to sue will be especially pertinent in this case.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana sales that were previously taking place in a dangerous underground market are now being conducted safely,” Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.

“It’s hard to imagine why anyone would prefer marijuana be controlled by criminals instead of by tightly regulated businesses. If drug cartels relied on litigation instead of violence, this is the lawsuit they would file.”

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