High Court Gives Good News to Pot Legalization Activists

Supreme Court won't consider lawsuit against Colorado from 2 other states
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 21, 2016 5:08 PM CDT
High Court Gives Good News to Pot Legalization Activists
This Feb. 17, 2016, file photo, shows the Supreme Court in Washington.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Marijuana is a political debate, not a legal one—for now. The US Supreme Court announced Monday that it won't consider a lawsuit filed by two other states challenging Colorado's pot law. But lawyers say that Nebraska and Oklahoma officials could pursue other legal challenges down the road, the AP reports. For now, the many states considering pot laws this year won't have immediate guidance from the nation's high court about whether they're free to flout federal drug law by regulating the drug. Instead, the 26 states and Washington, DC, that allow marijuana for medical or recreational purposes don't have any immediate roadblocks on their marijuana laws. "This is good news for legalization supporters," the chairman of Marijuana Majority tells the Los Angeles Times. "If ... the court ruled the wrong way, [the case] the potential to roll back many of the gains our movement has achieved to date."

Marijuana legalization advocates immediately seized on the Supreme Court's announcement as a signal that states are free to legalize marijuana if they wish. "States have every right to regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana, just as Nebraska and Oklahoma have the right to maintain their failed prohibition policies," said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. But Colorado officials weren't so sure. Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, a Republican who opposes legal weed, said that while Nebraska and Oklahoma chose the wrong legal approach, pot is very much a question in need of federal guidance. "The legal questions surrounding (marijuana) still require stronger leadership from Washington," Coffman said in a statement Monday. Nebraska's attorney general said Monday that his state would consider trying again to challenge Colorado's pot law, just not directly to the nation's highest court. "What it basically tells us is to go forth in the federal district court to start off the lawsuit," he said. (Read more marijuana legalization stories.)

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