Last week President Obama’s Solicitor General — the lawyer that represents the federal government in cases before the Supreme Court — urged the highest court in the land to decline to hear arguments from the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma, who say cannabis legalization in the state of Colorado is causing more marijuana to flow into their states. SG Donald B. Verrilli argued that the case was outside the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
"Entering the type of dispute at issue here — essentially that one state's laws make it more likely that third parties will violate federal and state law in another state — would represent a substantial and unwarranted expansion of this Court's jurisdiction,” Verilli argued.
For their part, officials in Nebraska and Oklahoma say they have less of a problem with Colorado’s legalization law and more of a problem with the way the state regulates it. What the difference is will likely be a debate for lawyers and judges down the line. After all, legalization will come with regulation and Colorado really can’t control the amount of product that leaves the state, although politicians like to pretend they can if they just enact certain restrictions.
In the end the key for states like Nebraska and Oklahoma is to take a look at the way they treat cannabis. Prohibition has failed, so if they are expecting it to suddenly succeed, they will be waiting a very long time. Legalization is the future.
Instead of chastising Colorado, these states should be trying to emulate the state and its approach to marijuana regulation. Leaving the market in the hands of criminals is clearly not an option anymore and the quicker states realize that, the better off they will be.