Feds Ask Supreme Court To Stay Out Of Lawsuit Over Colorado Marijuana

COLORADO: The federal government has asked theU.S. Supreme Court to avoid wading into a lawsuit brought by Oklahoma and Nebraska over Colorado’s legalized marijuana system.

Oklahoma and Nebraska say Colorado’s legal marijuana system has created a flood of modern-day bootleggers who are buying pot in Colorado and then illegally crossing state lines. Oklahoma and Nebraska have sued Colorado, asking the Supreme Court to block the state’s legal marijuana system. Colorado asked the court to throw out the lawsuit, and the Supreme Court this fall asked the federal government to weigh in.

“Entertaining the type of dispute at issue here — essentially that one state’s laws make it more likely that third parties will violate federal and state law in another state — would represent a substantial and unwarranted expansion of this court’s original jurisdiction,” Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. wrote in his response filed Wednesday.

 

On Marijuana Policy, Congress Needs to Pick Up Where It Left Off

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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Now that Congress has returned from its August recess, it’s time for members to debate and vote on the annual budget that will fund the federal government from October of this year through September of next year. And various marijuana amendments will be a part of these discussions.

Much has been made of the way same-sex marriage moved rapidly from unthinkable to inevitable to achieving the ultimate victory. But there’s another issue following a similar trajectory — marijuana legalization. As with marriage reform, the bulk of the action with marijuana legalization has been at the state level, with most members of Congress hesitant to express support until public opinion moves well past the tipping point. This is starting to change.

Until last year, neither chamber of Congress had ever passed any measure in support of reforming federal marijuana laws. That changed in May 2014 when the House, with 219 votes, passed a budget restriction that was intended to block the enforcement of federal marijuana laws for people and businesses acting in compliance with state laws that permit medical marijuana. That measure, sponsored by Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Sam Farr (D-CA), became law when it was included in the so-called “CRomnibus” in December 2014.

The New Clash Over Cannabis

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The Obama administration and many congressional Republicans have been loath to go anywhere near the experiment with marijuana legalization in Colorado and other states. But pressure is mounting on Washington to take a stand on pot, and perhaps soon.

In a lawsuit filed last month with the U.S. Supreme Court, attorneys general of Nebraska and Oklahoma argue that Colorado’s marijuana initiative is spilling over into their neighboring, more conservative states. Marijuana arrests and prosecutions are up over the past year, they say, straining law enforcement budgets as more overtime is paid to handle the uptick in activity. And drugged driving is a growing problem, they contend.

But the neighbor states are also taking aim at a federal government that seems highly reluctant to tackle the issue. And with several more states considering legalizing recreational marijuana, the Justice Department and Congress may be forced to clarify what’s OK or not when it comes to marijuana, experts say.

“It’s gone from a slow burn to a hot, cauldron bubble,” Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University, said of tensions over cannabis policy.

 

 

Fardon: ‘Careful’ Banks Can Invest In Legal Illinois Marijuana

ILLINOIS:  Banks that accept money from legal Illinois marijuana growers won’t “come on our radar for prosecution” if they are “careful” and “transparent” and “follow the laws,” U.S. Attorney Zach Fardon said.

Addressing the issue of Illinois’ move to legalize medical marijuana in the new year in public for the first time Wednesday morning, Fardon acknowledged the growing gap between lenient state marijuana laws and harsher federal laws presented him with a “tricky paradigm.”

But speaking to a breakfast meeting at the downtown Union League Club, Fardon offered qualified reassurance to legitimate businesses looking to cash in on legal weed.

“So long as they follow these laws that are in place, I don’t expect they will come on our radar for prosecution,” Fardon said, adding that it would take time for all the issues between the conflicting state and federal laws to be worked out.