The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to take up a lawsuit launched by Nebraska and Oklahoma trying to strike down Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana.
Justices voted 6-2 to block the lawsuit from reaching the nation’s highest court. Nebraska and Oklahoma attorneys general have complained that Colorado’s legalization of the drug has caused marijuana to uncontrollably pour into their states, prompting a massive drain on law enforcement resources.
Attorneys from the two states also argued that Colorado’s legislation violates the Controlled Substances Act. Colorado in turn responded that a state cannot violate the rights of another state merely for embracing a policy with which its neighbors disagree.
The Obama administration has repeatedly declined to crack down on Colorado for legalizing marijuana at the state level and went a step further by pressuring the Supreme Court not to hear this case. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. filed a brief in December arguing the complaint presented by the two states against Colorado does not fit within the purview of the Court’s original jurisdiction.
“There’s no question about it: This is good news for legalization supporters,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This case, if it went forward and the Court ruled the wrong way, had the potential to roll back many of the gains our movement has achieved to date.”
“But the justices correctly decided that this lawsuit is without merit and that states should be able to move forward with implementing voter-approved legalization laws even if their neighbors don’t like it,” Angell added.
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. provided the dissenting opinion, arguing that the Constitution mandates the court hear all disputes between states.
“The plaintiff states have alleged significant harms to their sovereign interests caused by another state,” Thomas wrote, according to The Washington Times. “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.”
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