By Carole C. Schriefer, R.N., J.D., The Health Law Firm
On March 21, 2016, the Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit from neighboring states challenging Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana. The complaint from Nebraska and Oklahoma states that Colorado’s relaxation of marijuana laws undermines federal law. Both states said that Colorado’s move to decriminalize certain uses of marijuana increases trafficking into their states, requiring them to expand law enforcement, judicial system and penal system resources. The Supreme Court turned down the complaint without comment.

The Complaint.

In this unusual case, the two states asked the justices to allow them to file a lawsuit directly in the Supreme Court. The Constitution gives the court such “original jurisdiction” to hear disputes between states, but the court uses it sparingly. “The State of Colorado authorizes, oversees, protects and profits from a sprawling $100-million-per-month marijuana growing, processing and retailing organization that exported thousands of pounds of marijuana to some 36 states in 2014,” the two states, Nebraska and Oklahoma said in their petition to the court. “If this entity were based south of our border, the federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel.”

Refusal to Hear the Case.

According to the Obama administration, the change and loosening of penalties in other states does not undermine federal drug laws and therefore, advised the court not to accept the case. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Ir., the federal government’s top appellate lawyer, said both states had not shown the direct injury that warrants granting what the court calls original jurisdiction to hear interstate disagreements.

The Supreme Court did not comment or explain why it declined to hear the case.

To read more on the legalization of marijuana in Colorado, click here to read one of my prior blogs.

To learn more about medical marijuana law in general, click here for our medical marijuana law blog.

Contact Experienced Health Law Attorneys for Medical Marijuana Concerns.

The Health Law Firm attorneys can assist health care providers and facilities, such as doctors, pharmacists and pharmacies, wanting to participate in the medical marijuana industry. We can properly draft and complete the applications for registration, permitting and/or licensing, while complying with Florida law. We can also represent doctors, pharmacies and pharmacists facing proceedings brought by state regulators or agencies.

To contact the Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at


Liptak, Adam. “Supreme Court Declines to Hear Challenge to Colorado’s Marijuana Laws.” The New York Times. (March 21, 2016). Web.

Barnes, Robert. “Supreme Court turns down case that challenges Colorado marijuana law.” (March 21, 2016). Web.

About the Author: C. Schriefer is a nurse-attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620. It has a branch office in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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