State set to defend marijuana law for first time in filing with U.S. Supreme Court

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DENVER — Friday is the deadline for Colorado to submit a filing to the U.S. Supreme Court in defense of its recreational marijuana law.

The filing is in response to a legal challenge from Nebraska and Oklahoma that says the legalization of recreational marijuana violates the U.S. Constitution.

“Colorado has created a system that legalizes, promotes and facilitates distribution of marijuana,” Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said in a news release announcing the lawsuit in December.

“The illegal products of this system are heavily trafficked into neighboring states, causing an unnecessary burden on the state of Nebraska. Colorado has undermined the United States Constitution, and I hope the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold our constitutional principles.”

Then-Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the state would defend the law. Cynthia Coffman has since become the state’s attorney general.

Nebraska and Oklahoma contend Amendment 64 and its implementing legislation are unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Supremacy Clause holds that federal law supersedes all state law, including state constitutions. Under a strict interpretation of the clause, some believe this means no state can legalize marijuana unless the federal government does so.

The lawsuit is one of four that are trying to get rid of the law, which has been in effect since January 2014, abolished.

The other lawsuits have been filed by a hotel owner in the state who says legal marijuana is hurting his business; by a landowner in the southern part of the state who says property values have been hurt; and sheriffs in Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas.