Pubdate: Fri, 19 Dec 2014
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2014 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Jack Healy, New York Times


DENVER - Two heartland states filed the first major court challenge 
to marijuana legalization Thursday, saying that Colorado's growing 
array of state-regulated recreational drug shops was piping marijuana 
into neighboring states and should be shut down.

The lawsuit, brought by attorneys general in Nebraska and Oklahoma, 
asks the US Supreme Court to strike down key parts of a 2012 
voter-approved measure that legalized marijuana in Colorado for adult 
use and created a system of stores, taxes, and regulations 
surrounding retail marijuana.

While marijuana remains illegal under federal law, officials in 
Washington, D.C., have largely allowed Colorado and other states to 
move ahead with state-run programs allowing medical and recreational 
marijuana. But the lawsuit from Nebraska and Oklahoma, where 
marijuana is still outlawed, argues that Colorado has "created a 
dangerous gap" in the federal drug-control system.

"Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states," the suit 
says, undermining their marijuana bans, "draining their treasuries, 
and placing stress on their criminal justice systems."

For months, some sheriffs and police officers in rural counties 
bordering Colorado have complained that they have seen more marijuana 
entering their towns and being transported down their highways since 
recreational sales began in January.

Oklahoma and Nebraska said the influx had led to more arrests, more 
impounded vehicles, and higher jail and court costs. They say it has 
also forced law-enforcement agencies to spend more time and dedicate 
more resources to handling marijuana-related arrests.

"We're seeing a lot of marijuana coming over from Colorado," said 
Sheriff Adam Hayward of Deuel County, Neb., who said he was gratified 
that the two states were challenging Colorado's marijuana laws.

He has complained that marijuana arrests have strained his jail budget.

"For the longest time, we were saying, 'This is becoming a problem 
for us,' " Hayward said.

Colorado's attorney general, John Suthers, a Republican, said in a 
statement that the challenge was "without merit."

Like many elected officials in Colorado, Suthers had opposed 
Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana. But Thursday, he said "we 
will vigorously defend" against the lawsuit attempting to undo it.
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