Neighboring states challenge Colorado pot laws in top U.S. court

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 18, 2014 4:34 PM

By Daniel Wallis

DENVER (Reuters) - Nebraska and Oklahoma challenged neighboring Colorado's recreational marijuana laws in the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday amid complaints its pot was seeping across their borders, and Colorado vowed to defend its laws.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said he joined Oklahoma in filing the action against Colorado, where voters chose to legalize recreational marijuana in a landmark 2012 vote even as the drug remains federally outlawed. 

"Federal law undisputedly prohibits the production and sale of marijuana," Bruning said in a statement, adding that drugs threaten the health and safety of children, and calling narcotics trafficking a national, interstate problem.

Colorado has created a system that legalizes, promotes and facilitates distribution of marijuana, he said, and its illegal products are "heavily trafficked" into neighboring states.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers responded that because neighboring states had expressed concern about Colorado-grown pot crossing their borders, he was "not entirely surprised" by the legal challenge.

"However, it appears the plaintiffs' primary grievance stems from non-enforcement of federal laws regarding marijuana, as opposed to choices made by the voters of Colorado," Suthers said in a statement. "We believe this suit is without merit and we will vigorously defend against it in the U.S. Supreme Court."

Suthers said Nebraska and Oklahoma's lawsuit was filed for consideration by the justices as an "original case." Such cases typically involve disputes between states over issues such as boundaries and water rights, and often run on for years.

(Additional reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)