A little over a year ago the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma filed suit in federal court in an attempt to get Colorado’s marijuana legalization law voided. The United States Supreme Court was scheduled to discuss the case last week, but the meeting was postponed due to the death of Antonin Scalia and the timing of his memorial service.
Officials from Nebraska and Oklahoma contend that legal recreational marijuana in Colorado is causing an increase in the amount of cannabis flowing into their states. They say the fact that cannabis is illegal on a federal level overrides Colorado’s law and it should be struck down. The state of Kansas is considering its own lawsuit against Colorado as well.
The Obama Administration has weighed in on the issue, urging the Supreme Court not to hear the case; this course of action (or non-action) would leave Colorado’s law intact.
Scalia’s death itself throws confusion into the case. Even though he had a history of upholding state’s rights on other issues, he had voted against them when it came to marijuana in the past. This leaves the possibility of a 4 to 4 tie among the remaining justices, which would also allow the Colorado law to stand.
When the 8 justices finally to confer on the issue, at least four of them have to vote in favoring of hearing the case. If four do not favor hearing the case, again, Colorado’s law would stand.
If Scalia had lived, these votes could have gone differently, which could have nullified Colorado’s legalization, something that could cripple the legalization movement and stop it in its tracks.
This is not the route legalization needs to go. The voters of each state can decide on a better course of action than we have seen with prohibition and can voice their feelings to their representatives to get federal law changed. Marijuana legalization should not be decided by 9 — now 8 — people in black robes in Washington D.C.