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Anti-Pot Sheriffs Hope to Reinstate Marijuana Prohibition in Colorado
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Colorado faces anti pot suit

Summary: Anti-pot sheriffs have filed a suit in Colorado in hopes of prohibiting marijuana once again.

A dozen Colorado sheriffs are aiming to take on the 2012 legalization of marijuana. They have filed a suit in Denver court that challenges the state’s 2012 amendment. They claim that the court owes them guidance on how to negotiate between state and federal laws. Though the state may have legalized pot, at the federal level smoking marijuana is strictly prohibited.


Nevertheless, the Department of Justice grants states and tribal governments their own sway on regulated recreational marijuana use.

This is why Tom Angell, chairman of the group Marijuana Majority, says “there will always be some people who desperately try to cling to what’s familiar,” and “these prohibitionists who lost at the ballot box on Election Day are trying to overturn the will of the voters by making a last-ditch attempt in the court.”

Bypassing popular vote is old news. Many state bans on same sex marriage, for instance, have been overturned as being “unconstitutional.” And though President Barack Obama’s Affordable Healthcare won the popular vote, Republicans are nevertheless trying to defeat it in the courts.

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One of the complaints of the suit against the 2012 amendment comes from officers from neighboring states who claim that their jails are glutted with those who get marijuana in Colorado and drive with it into Nebraska and Kansas.

Sheriff Mark Overman of Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska has complained that Colorado’s legalization “has placed an undue burden on taxpayers in my county. Because of Amendment 64 our jails are full, our court dockets are full.” He also noted that the reform “completely changed the landscape for marijuana we encounter.”

Others are criticizing the rationale for the suit:

“If these sheriffs are truly worried about a conflict between state and federal marijuana laws, they should stop trying to overturn the will of their own constituents and urge Congress to fix our broken, outdated federal laws,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project. “The truth is this isn’t about a legal conflict. It’s another effort by a small handful of anti-marijuana zealots who have made a career out of fighting a war on marijuana and just can’t seem to let it go.”

This cynicism against the anti-pot sheriffs at least has some bite. What Sheriff Justin Smith of Colorado’s Larimer County claims is that he is seeking to alleviate the law that “created a constitutional showdown.” He is hoping, in short, not for the federal law to be modified, but the state ruling to be dismissed.

Is the triumphant legalization of marijuana in jeapordy?

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