Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Nebraska and Oklahoma’s lawsuit challenging Colorado’s marijuana regulation laws.
The decision is available here.
The attorneys general for Nebraska and Oklahoma filed the lawsuit directly with the Supreme Court in December 2014, arguing that the state’s decision to regulate the cultivation and distribution of marijuana was “placing stress on their criminal justice systems.” The Colorado and U.S. governments both filed briefs urging the court to dismiss the suit. Oklahoma Republicans also urged their attorney general to drop the suit.
Associated Press 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, D.C., that allow marijuana for medical or recreational purposes don’t have any immediate roadblocks on their marijuana laws.
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.
“Colorado has done more to control marijuana than just about any other state in the nation. It will continue to set an example for other states that are considering similar laws in legislatures and at the ballot box.”
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in two cases that questioned a harsh federal law requiring the deportation of non-citizens who are convicted of certain crimes, including minor drug violations.
Media reports on those whose lives hang in the balance over these decisions have included one horror story after another about people who in many cases were legal residents of the United States for decades, but were forced to endure brutal treatment and threats of deportation, simply for minor marijuana convictions.
Among the most egregious:
- Jerry Lemaine, a legal permanent resident of New York who was instructed by a lawyer to plead guilty after a police officer found a marijuana cigarette in his pocket one night in 2007. That guilty plea led to a terrible chain reaction, as reported by The New York Times: “Immigration authorities flew him in shackles to Texas, where he spent three years behind bars, including 10 months in solitary confinement, as he fought deportation to Haiti, the country he had left at age 3,” The Times reported yesterday.
- Jose Padilla, a native of Honduras who followed his lawyer’s advice to plead guilty to transporting marijuana. Federal agents told Padilla, a Vietnam veteran who has lived in Kentucky for many years, that he faced automatic deportation as soon as he pled guilty.
In the case of Padilla, the court ruled 7-2 today that lawyers must inform their clients about the consequences any case would have on their immigration status.
No opinion was given on the justness of punishing someone for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol.