Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed suit in the United States Supreme Court against Colorado for Colorado’s having legalized cannabis. Yes, you got that right. Two states have sued another state for what that other state did within its own borders.
Here are our initial thoughts:
1. Didn’t the NO States have plenty of cannabis in their states before Colorado legalized.
2. Won’t the NO States still have plenty of cannabis in their states even if they prevail on this lawsuit.
3. It is extremely rare for one state to sue another.
4. The Constitution says that one state may sue another state in the Supreme Court without first having to sue in a lower court, but they need the permission of the Supreme Court to do so.
5. The case is based on the NO States’ claiming Article VI of the Constitution requires federal laws prevail over contradictory state laws and this means that no state may “authorize the violation of federal law.” According to the NO States, Colorado’s allowing growing and distribution of marijuana on a commercial basis violates federal law and damages the NO States.
6. The NO States are seeking a ruling that federal law preempts Colorado’s commercial cannabis regime pursuant to Article VI of the Constitution and a Supreme Court order mandating Colorado cease its commercial cannabis regime.
7. We are troubled by this lawsuit because we are of the strong view that the votes of people in one state should not be cancelled by the mores of another state. We also support the federalist ideal of allowing individual states to experiment, with the other states free to decide for themselves whether to do likewise or not. There is something inherently wrong with Nebraska or Oklahoma seeking to tell Colorado what to do. How would Nebraska’s citizens feel about New York State suing Nebraska in an effort to dictate how Nebraska runs its corn program? After all, much Nebraska corn goes to New York.
8. The Supreme Court generally does not like hearing politically charged cases “before their time.” The legalization experiment is too new to provide much evidence on anything, including which way the political winds will eventually blow. Why rule on this case now when you can wait beyond 2016 to see better both the impacts of legalization and more votes by the American people? A decision by the Supreme Court not to take this case will likely invigorate those seeking legalization and cause some states on the precipice of legalizing to tip towards legalization. It might even cause the good citizens of Nebraska and Oklahoma to rise up and question why their state governments choose to blame another state for their own shortcomings.
9. How will the Supreme Court rule if it does decide to take this case? Too early to call. We would prefer to wait and see who is actually on the bench if and when the hearing date on this case comes.
What do you think?