Sheriffs from three states sue over Colorado pot law
Post Independent staff
Ten sheriffs from three different states on Thursday sued Colorado for legalizing marijuana.
The sheriffs from Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska say that Colorado’s 2012 marijuana legalization vote violates federal law and shouldn’t be permitted.
“A state may not establish its own policy that is directly counter to federal policy against trafficking in controlled substance,” the sheriffs argue in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Denver.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario, while not a party to the suit, told the Post Independent by email he has been involved in discussions about it and hopes the U.S. Supreme Court will resolve the issues at hand.
“I am fully supportive of this lawsuit, which addresses several concerns that I have repeatedly voiced since the legalization of marijuana became a serious topic,” Vallario said. “In addition to the many public safety concerns, impacts on Colorado and surrounding states, legal issues regarding the Supremacy Clause, and most importantly the negative impact on our youth, I am concerned that legalizing the use of a controlled substance puts me, and all other law enforcement officers sworn to uphold the state Constitution and well as the Constitution of the United States, in a position where we are violating one to uphold the other.”
The sheriffs’ lawsuit is the just latest legal challenge to legal weed. Separately, Nebraska and Oklahoma have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down marijuana legalization in Colorado. The Supreme Court hasn’t said yet whether it will hear that case.
Also, a group of Colorado residents has filed its own federal challenge, saying marijuana reduces property values.
The sheriffs note that more than half of Colorado’s recreational pot sales last year were sold to out-of-state visitors, according to data from Colorado’s marijuana regulators. The sheriffs say the weed is spilling across state lines. Even in Colorado, the sheriffs say, legal weed forces police officers to violate federal drug law.
“The scheme enacted by Colorado for retail marijuana is contrary and obstructive” to federal drug laws, the sheriffs argue.
Colorado sheriffs involved are from Larimer, Yuma, Elbert, Hinsdale, Kiowa and Delta counties.
Colorado’s attorney general, who will defend the state pot law in all three lawsuits, did not immediately respond to the sheriffs’ filing Thursday.
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