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DOJ Urges Supreme Court to Decline to Hear Colorado Recreational Cannabis Lawsuit

Last week, the Obama administration formally asked that the Supreme Court decline to hear a lawsuit seeking to overturn Colorado’s legalization of recreational cannabis, which is now in its third year. This past May, the court asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. and the Obama administration to weigh in on the matter.


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The lawsuit, which was filed in December of 2014 by the attorneys general of Oklahoma and Nebraska, alleges that sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado have resulted in an increase of illegal trafficking through both states. The suit requests that the Supreme Court consider marijuana’s federal status as an illegal drug to trump state law. Only recreational marijuana is named in the lawsuit, not medical marijuana.

The Department of Justice argued in a brief that arguments for the case shouldn’t even be heard by the court, saying that this is not an appropriate case for the exercise of the court’s original jurisdiction. According to Verrili, “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.”

So far, there has been no word on whether the Supreme Court will or will not hear the suit. The attorneys general from both Washington state and Oregon have filed briefs in the case supporting Colorado’s position.

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