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Pruitt Plans To Press On With Lawsuit Against Colorado Over Pot Laws

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Dank Depot
Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Attorney General Scott Pruitt doesn't intend to let up on his request for permission from the U.S. Supreme Court to sue the state of Colorado over its marijuana laws.

The Obama administration has come out strongly against Pruitt's proposal, saying Oklahoma and Nebraska haven't been negatively affected by the Centennial State's marijuana regulations.

Pruitt's spokesman told The Oklahoman’s Chris Casteel written arguments will be filed next month:

Responding to the administration, Pruitt said, “The issue is simple: Oklahoma is being harmed because Colorado marijuana is flowing into our state, violating our state laws and endangering Oklahoma citizens. “States aren't required to criminalize marijuana or enforce federal law. That is not what Oklahoma's lawsuit is about. The Obama administration has turned a blind eye, emboldening states like Colorado to set up systems that encourage the commercialization and trafficking of a substance illegal under federal law. “The Obama administration has allowed this to happen by not enforcing federal drug law and the U.S. Supreme Court should not take seriously its arguments about procedural matters until the administration answers why it refuses to enforce federal law.”

The attorneys general of both Oklahoma and Nebraska contend Colorado's marijuana laws violate the federal controlled substances act and have led to an increase in illegal drugs crossing into Colorado's neighbors. But the solicitor general, the federal government’s chief advocate before the high court, says usually interstate conflicts are limited to ones with “direct injury” claims, and this case doesn’t meet that, Casteel writes:

“Nebraska and Oklahoma essentially contend that Colorado's authorization of licensed intrastate marijuana production and distribution increases the likelihood that third parties will commit criminal offenses in Nebraska and Oklahoma by bringing marijuana purchased from licensed entities in Colorado into those states. “But they do not allege that Colorado had directed or authorized any individual to transport marijuana into their territories in violation of their laws. “Nor would any such allegation be plausible.”

Permission from the U.S. Supreme Court is required before individual states can pursue legal action against each other.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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