Press Release  | 12/16/2015

U.S. Government Sides With Colorado, Urging Supreme Court To Reject Neighboring States' Challenge To Country's First Marijuana Legalization Law

Obama Administration Urges Supreme Court Not To Hear Nebraska’s and Oklahoma’s Legal Challenge to Colorado’s Marijuana Legalization Law

Today, the Obama Administration filed an amicus brief, asking the Supreme Court to reject a case filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma seeking to block Colorado’s voter-approved marijuana legalization law.

Almost a year ago – on December 18, 2014 – Nebraska and Oklahoma filed suit in the U.S. Supreme Court against the state of Colorado over its marijuana legalization law, saying the law has created an increased law enforcement burden in neighboring states. The suit, filed by the attorneys general for Nebraska and Oklahoma, claims federal marijuana prohibition preempts Colorado’s law. Colorado voters decisively approved marijuana legalization in 2012 by adopting Amendment 64.

“We are pleased the DOJ agrees that this lawsuit borders on the frivolous.  States have historically been allowed to establish their own criminal laws,” said Jolene Forman, staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Moreover, Colorado is putting resources into ensuring its policies follow DOJ guidelines and has worked extensively with the DOJ towards this goal.”

The Federal government itself has not challenged the regulatory law in Colorado nor did they choose to interfere with its implementation. To the contrary, the government has deprioritized enforcement of state-level marijuana reforms and acknowledged the interests that both states and the Federal government have in openly regulating marijuana.

“Nebraska and Oklahoma’s primary problems are their own punitive policies regarding marijuana use and possession,” said Art Way, Colorado State Director of the  Drug Policy Alliance. “It is not Colorado’s fault these states look to spend such a high degree of law enforcement and judicial resources on marijuana prohibition.  Nebraska and Oklahoma should look to establish policies based on the potential harm of marijuana as opposed to simply using marijuana as the gateway to their criminal justice systems.”


Jolene Forman 510-842-7560
Art Way 720-288-6924