Justices seek U.S. government's views on Colorado marijuana law

Mon May 4, 2015 10:58am EDT
 
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By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday asked President Barack Obama's administration for its views on a lawsuit filed by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado over its voter-approved law legalizing recreational marijuana use by adults.

The Obama administration has allowed states to experiment with marijuana legalization even though the drug remains illegal under federal law.

The high court's action delays its decision on whether the nine justices will hear the case. There is no deadline for the U.S. Justice Department to respond to the court's request.

In their challenge to Colorado's law, Nebraska and Oklahoma said marijuana is being smuggled across their borders and that drugs threaten the health and safety of children.

Nebraska and Oklahoma noted that federal law still prohibits marijuana, arguing that Colorado has created "a dangerous gap" in the federal drug control system.

Colorado stands by its law and said the Supreme Court was not the correct place to resolve the case. Oklahoma and Nebraska's lawsuit was filed under the court's rarely used "original jurisdiction" in which the justices hear disputes between states that are not first reviewed by lower courts.

Colorado voters legalized recreational marijuana use in 2012. Washington state also voted the same year to legalize recreational marijuana use by adults, while Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia followed suit last fall.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

 
A man waves a Colorado flag with a marijuana leaf on it at Denver's annual 4/20 marijuana rally in front of the state capitol building in downtown Denver April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking