Voters in the state of Colorado effectively legalized
marijuana when they approved a state amendment back in 2012. But officials in two states – Nebraska
and Oklahoma – are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the approved
The stated reason for the lawsuit is that marijuana is
freely flowing into bordering states.
This would, of course, make things more difficult on the drug warriors
seeking to stamp out drugs in these other states.
Fortunately, the Attorney General of Colorado has vowed to
defend the new state law and says that the lawsuit has no merit.
The funniest quote has to be from Nebraska Attorney General
Jon Bruning who said, “While Colorado reaps millions from the sale of pot,
Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost.”
The only reason that Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the
cost is because it is forced on them by their government. If enough voters in Nebraska favored
legalization – or just not fighting a war on drugs – then they wouldn’t have to
pay any cost. They can choose to
do the same thing that Colorado voters did or just choose not to go after
marijuana sellers and users.
A lot of people will say they favor legalization of
marijuana or other drugs because it means the government can then tax it. Personally, that is the one disadvantage
I see of drug legalization. I
don’t really think governments at any level need more money to spend. I suppose if the taxes from drugs meant
eliminating other taxes, it might be acceptable, but we know that isn’t what
But it is humorous to see these politicians struggle with
this issue. On the one hand, they
want to control people’s lives and tell them what to do. They like the war on drugs because it
gives them more power and more excuses to encroach on people’s civil liberties.
On the other hand, politicians like to spend other people’s
money and they are being deprived of some of the loot when they can’t tax the
drugs that they have outlawed.
So while I don’t like additional tax money going to
politicians, it is at least causing some to look twice at the issue, even if
for the wrong reasons. If more
states legalize marijuana (or any other drugs) because they are seeking tax
money, I still see it as a step in the right direction.
From a Constitutional point of view, the U.S. Supreme Court
should refuse to hear this lawsuit.
The entire federal war on drugs is unconstitutional in the first
place. It is certainly not an
enumerated power listed in Article I, Section 8.
And in this case, Colorado has explicitly stated in its law
that marijuana is legal. There can
be little question that this would trump federal law, even though the federal
law should really be no law at all.
I think the most interesting scenario would be if the U.S.
Supreme Court actually ruled against Colorado. This would stir up a lot of trouble. You would hear more talk about
secession and nullification.
For this reason, I don’t think that will happen. I think the Supreme Court will not rule
for Nebraska and Oklahoma. They
are not going to risk a political riot by going against a clear majority of the
people in Colorado.
In a sense, liberty lovers might actually hope the Supreme
Court tries to strike down the law.
We might see Colorado officials simply ignore it. This would be really bad news for the
federal government, as it might set a precedent.
Over the last several years, more and more people have
talked about the idea of nullification, where states refuse to enforce federal
laws. The federal government
doesn’t want to see more of this, so we can expect the Supreme Court to
actually do the right thing here and dismiss the lawsuit.
The people of Oklahoma and Nebraska can figure out how to
deal with their situation without forcing other states on what to allow and
what not to allow. And if they
can’t beat them, maybe they will join them.