Supreme Court Declines to Hear MJ Challenge
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Supreme Court Declines to Hear MJ Challenge
Posted by CN Staff on March 21, 2016 at 14:46:49 PT
By Adam Liptak
Source: New York Times
Washington, D.C. -- The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an unusual lawsuit challenging Colorado’s legalization of recreational marijuana and told a Massachusetts court to take a fresh look at a Second Amendment case involving stun guns.In the marijuana case, two states sought to use a rare procedure to attack the Colorado law, asking 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, most often to adjudicate boundary disputes or water rights.
“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,” two neighboring states, Nebraska and Oklahoma, told the court. “If this entity were based south of our border, the federal government would prosecute it as a drug cartel.”In 2012, Colorado voters amended the state’s Constitution to allow recreational use of marijuana and to regulate its sale and distribution. Nebraska and Oklahoma did not challenge the law’s decriminalization of the drug’s possession and use, but said other parts of the law were at odds with federal law and had vast spillover effects, taxing neighboring states’ criminal justice systems and hurting the health of their residents.Colorado told the justices that its neighbors were pursuing a curious and counterproductive strategy in the case, Nebraska v. Colorado, No. 144.“Nebraska and Oklahoma concede that Colorado has power to legalize the cultivation and use of marijuana — a substance that for decades has seen enormous demand and has, until recently, been supplied exclusively through a multi-billion-dollar black market,” Colorado’s brief said. “Yet the plaintiff states seek to strike down the laws and regulations that are designed to channel demand away from this black market and into a licensed and closely monitored retail system.”Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., the federal government’s top appellate lawyer, urged the justices to refuse to hear the case.“Nebraska and Oklahoma essentially contend,” he wrote, “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 has directed or authorized any individual to transport marijuana into their territories in violation of their laws.”Both Mr. Verrilli and Colorado officials added that Nebraska and Oklahoma could pursue their objections in a more conventional suit, filed in a federal trial court.The Supreme Court did not explain why it declined to hear the case. Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., dissented, saying the case presented a substantial question and that the court was required to hear it. “The plaintiff states have alleged significant harms to their sovereign interests caused by another state,” Justice Thomas wrote.In the second case, Caetano v. Massachusetts, No. 14-10078, the court in an unsigned opinion rejected the reasoning of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which upheld a state law that made it a crime for most people to possess stun guns. The state court said the Second Amendment did not apply to stun guns.There were no noted dissents. But, in a concurrence, Justice Alito, joined by Justice Thomas, called the majority’s approach “grudging.”The majority did not itself assess the constitutionality of the stun-gun law and instead returned it to the state court “for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.”The justices did say that the reasons offered by the state court for sustaining the law were at odds with the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which established a constitutional right to keep guns at home for self-defense. The Heller decision left a great many other open questions.The unsigned opinion said the Massachusetts court erred, for instance, in reading the Heller decision to say weapons not in common use in the 18th century were not protected by the Second Amendment.Justice Alito elaborated. “Electronic stun guns,” he wrote, “are no more exempt from the Second Amendment’s protections, simply because they were unknown to the First Congress, than electronic communications are exempt from the First Amendment, or electronic imaging devices are exempt from the Fourth Amendment.”Justice Alito said his colleagues should have done more than send the case back to the state court for another look.“The lower court’s ill treatment of Heller cannot stand,” he wrote. “The reasoning of the Massachusetts court poses a grave threat to the fundamental right of self-defense.”He suggested that he would have voted to strike down the law. “While less popular than handguns, stun guns are widely owned and accepted as a legitimate means of self-defense across the country,” Justice Alito wrote. “Massachusetts’ categorical ban of such weapons therefore violates the Second Amendment.”The case arose from the arrest of Jaime Caetano, a woman who had used a stun gun for protection from an abusive former boyfriend. “It is a good thing she did,” Justice Alito wrote.“If the fundamental right of self-defense does not protect Caetano,” Justice Alito added, “then the safety of all Americans is left to the mercy of state authorities who may be more concerned about disarming the people than about keeping them safe.”Source: New York Times (NY)Author: Adam LiptakPublished: March 21, 2016Copyright: 2016 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #4 posted by runruff on March 22, 2016 at 07:54:05 PT
The FDA can smooch monkey butt!
We one had the most vile, restrictive, Draconian laws in history. Prohibition with the most unconstitutional, unhumanly punitive laws ever written and pot prohibition failed. How does a toothless oginaization like FDA think they are going to stop people from making homemade cannabis products.These folks are delusional with wishful thinking.
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Comment #3 posted by afterburner on March 21, 2016 at 21:31:43 PT
CBD and Hemp at Risk Due to FDA Ruling
I applaud the Supreme Court's decision. However, other parts of the same federal government are once again restricting our rights.HEALTH FREEDOM ALERT: The FDA just outlawed CBDs and hemp oil extracts by claiming all plant molecules now belong exclusively to Big Pharma. 03/20/2016 by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on March 21, 2016 at 18:40:42 PT
OK & Neb: Don't mess with Our black market.
“Yet the plaintiff states seek to strike down the laws and regulations that are designed to channel demand away from this black market and into a licensed and closely monitored retail system.”-0-Sounds like Nebraska and Oklahoma doesn't like any competition with its thriving black market and associated interests (read law enforcement agencies of every type & THEIR UNIONS).-0-***One reason cannabis was RE-legalized in Colorado is because citizens voted to FORCE government to regulate the plant and take away regulation by the black market.We voted to force government to do their job.Because government doesn't want to work.-Ok & Neb doesn't want to do their job. And law enforcement agencies (UNIONS) tell them not to so they can get job security.
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Comment #1 posted by Sam Adams on March 21, 2016 at 18:28:52 PT
nice milestone
this is a fairly important win right? The Supreme Court has effectively ruled on marijuana legalization.  I doubt any state will try this again.  This will help investors and banks feel comfortable with the cannabis industry. Also state legislators.We win!! The day when the Supreme Court strikes down the last state's prohibition law is on the horizon, and getting closer!
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