There is now a stronger arsenal available to those states working to bring down the scourge of marijuana prohibition in their neck of the woods. Earlier last week, a federal judge dismissed the charges against Pueblo County and a legion of Colorado officials in a lawsuit suggesting that marijuana legalization violated a number of statutes overseen by the thugs in the District of Columbia.
Although the case does not appear to have national implications, the outcome should provide some level of solace for other regions of the United States wishing to reform their pot laws without the risk of being litigiously accosted by a ministry of naysayers.
The complaint launched in February 2015 by Safe Streets Alliance and the owners of a Pueblo County ranch suggested that the implementation of Colorado’s Amendment 64 was a violation of federal law as dictated under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The plaintiffs argued that not only was the county in violation of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), but they claimed Governor John Hickenlooper and a number of other state officials should be held accountable for neglecting their responsibility to uphold the laws intended to protect the citizens of Colorado.
At its most basic level, the lawsuit begged the federal government to step in and tear down the walls of the Colorado cannabis trade in the spirit of adhering to the chain of command that puts the voice of Uncle Sam above the rules approved by individual states.
But Judge Robert E. Blackburn swooped in and rejected the grievance, arguing that only the United States government has the power to decide whether Colorado is in violation of the Supremacy Clause. He then went on to say that it was clearly out of bounds for individuals and organizations to crucify a state for potential violations of federal law.
Although the judge acknowledged that marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, he explained “the Department of Justice has made a conscious, reasoned decision to allow the states which have enacted laws permitting the cultivation and sale of medical and recreational marijuana” to do so without federal interference.
Judge Blackburn shot down the plaintiff’s claim that statewide marijuana legalization is a “racketeering activity” by suggesting, “Government entities cannot form specific criminal intent,” and therefore remain prosecution proof under the RICO law.
Although legal experts speculated that the Colorado RICO cases were destined to become “incredibly problematic for the industry,” the dismissal of the latest case, along with the Obama Administration’s recent plea with the U.S. Supreme Court to ignore the lawsuit filed against Colorado by its neighboring states, could take some of the heat off, deterring additional plaintiffs from coming forward any time soon with similar complaints.
(Photo Courtesy of the Daily Chronic)