Nebraska, rebuffed by the United State Supreme Court, is taking another route in its lawsuit against Colorado over the legalization of marijuana.
Attorney General Doug Peterson says the Supreme Court never addressed the legal issue when it declined to take the lawsuit filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado.
“So the Supreme Court was answering a procedural question. They weren’t addressing the merits of our case,” Peterson tells Nebraska Radio Network in a telephone interview.
Both states now have asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to join a lawsuit filed against Colorado by law enforcement and landowners opposed to marijuana legalization. The action allows Nebraska and Oklahoma to bypass the federal district court level and go directly to the appellate court.
Colorado voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana in November of 2012. Licensed shops began selling marijuana in 2014. Nebraska and Oklahoma claim legalization has had a detrimental effect on their states, particularly on law enforcement. Nebraska has claimed the Colorado law has been especially harmful to law enforcement in western Nebraska.
The two groups in Colorado make a number of arguments in their lawsuits. Among the arguments, says Peterson, is the one the two states are making.
“That Colorado, by becoming engaged in the licensing, the regulation, and the taxing of the marijuana business, that they are, in effect, becoming part of the business and that’s in contradiction to the federal Controlled Substance Act law,” Peterson says.
For now, the 10th Circuit has allowed the states to file briefs, but has yet to decide whether they can formally join the lawsuit.
Federal trial court judges in Colorado dismissed the lawsuits. The lawsuits were combined upon appeal to the 10th Circuit.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]