States of Nebraska and Oklahoma v. State of Colorado

No. 220144, Original (2014)

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States of Nebraska and Oklahoma v. State of Colorado

United States Supreme Court
No. 220144, Original (2014)

Facts

In 2012, voters in Colorado passed a ballot initiative that added a marijuana-legalization amendment to Colorado’s state constitution. Colorado (defendant) subsequently enacted numerous laws and regulations to implement the amendment. Among other things, the amendment and the resultant laws and regulations legalized the possession, use, cultivation, manufacture, transportation, sale, and distribution of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes in Colorado, subject to various rules and requirements. Nebraska and Oklahoma (the antimarijuana states) (plaintiffs) filed a lawsuit against Colorado, arguing that the marijuana-legalization amendment and resultant laws and regulations harmed the antimarijuana states and were preempted by federal law, rendering those laws and regulations unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause in the US Constitution. In particular, the antimarijuana states noted that the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which was enacted to comprehensively and uniformly regulate legal and illegal controlled substances throughout the US, strictly prohibited the possession, use, cultivation, manufacture, transportation, sale, and distribution of marijuana. Because Colorado’s marijuana-legalization efforts conflicted with the CSA and frustrated one of the CSA’s primary objectives—regulating illegal drug activity—the antimarijuana states alleged that Colorado’s marijuana-legalization constitutional amendment and the resultant laws and regulations were preempted by the CSA and could not be enforced. The antimarijuana states further alleged that Colorado’s marijuana-legalization efforts harmed the antimarijuana states because Colorado took no steps to mitigate the risk that marijuana would be purchased by criminals or others in Colorado and brought into the neighboring antimarijuana states. As a result, the antimarijuana states suffered an increase in marijuana-related crime, which burdened the finite law-enforcement and judicial resources of the antimarijuana states. The antimarijuana states sought a declaratory judgment that Colorado’s marijuana-legalization constitutional amendment and the resultant laws and regulations were preempted by the CSA and, therefore, unconstitutional. The antimarijuana states also requested an injunction barring Colorado from continuing to implement its marijuana-legalization efforts.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning ()

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