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March 22, 2016
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SCOTUS Rejects Interstate Marijuana Case

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The Constitution gives the Supreme Court original jurisdiction in all cases in which a state is a party. Art. III, §2, cl. 2. Federal statutory law follows suit. 28 U.S.C. §1251(a). Nevertheless, earlier today, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case in which Nebraska and Oklahoma wanted to sue Colorado. I know, I know. Who cares, right? Well, the thing of it is, those interested in the legalization of marijuana nationwide should.

Recall, although federal law prohibits the manufacturing, distribution, dispensing, and possession of marijuana, the State of Colorado, in 2012, amended its state constitution to legalize, regulate, and facilitate the recreational use of the very same substance. Still wondering why Nebraska and Oklahoma are involved?

Those two states share borders with Colorado, a byproduct of which is that there has been an increase in trafficking of Colorado-sourced marijuana into their home territories–where it remains illegal. As plaintiffs, they wanted the Supreme Court to enter a declaratory judgment that federal law preempts Colorado state law, and therefore, Colorado should be enjoined from implementing its legal-but-regulated marijuana industry.

Had this case been heard, it could have had a profound and immediate impact on the marijuana industry in Colorado. The Supreme Court would have to wrestle with notions of federalism and potentially pen an opinion that was the death knell for Colorado’s recreational marijuana industry.

For what it’s worth, Justices Thomas and Alito were not happy that the Court declined to take the case.

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