Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado Lock and Load for the Great Pot War
The attorneys general of Oklahoma and Nebraska have filed suit in the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to shut down the billion-dollar legal marijuana industry in Colorado.
Jon Caldara, the president of “free-thought” think tank the Independence Institute in Denver, told PJM it’s a “silly lawsuit.”
However, if the Supreme Court justices don’t see it his way, Caldara said Colorado could countersue Oklahoma and Nebraska for selling gun magazines that carry more than 15 rounds of ammo.
Colorado’s attorney general, John Suthers, has promised to mount a vigorous defense of his state’s pot business and the rules and regulations that were created following voter approval of the use of marijuana, just for the buzz of it, in the November 2012 election.
The state’s first marijuana stores opened Jan. 1, 2014.
Colorado’s entrepreneurs of weed argue their case isn’t just about the capitalistic notion that a billion-dollar industry is worth saving, or even the $30.5 million in tax revenue the industry is expected to send to Denver in the 2014-15 fiscal year.
Michael Elliott works as the executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group in Colorado — the business is so legit it now has its own lobbyists in Denver — and said a victory by Nebraska and Oklahoma would “put the violent criminal organizations back in charge” of the pot business.
But attorneys general in Oklahoma and Nebraska argue their states are paying the price for Colorado’s new legal weed culture.
Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, joined Jon Bruning, his counterpart in Nebraska, in filing suit in the U.S. Supreme Court Dec. 18 against Colorado’s commercialized marijuana system.
Pruitt and Bruning argue the way Colorado is selling pot violates the U.S. Constitution and inundates their states with marijuana and the stoned-out, red-eyed potheads who smoke it, eat it, and drink it — marijuana is available in liquid form, mints and truffles, along with weed to roll and smoke.
“The illegal products being distributed in Colorado are being trafficked across state lines thereby injuring neighboring states like Oklahoma and Nebraska,” Pruitt said.
“As the state’s chief legal officer, the attorney general’s office is taking this step to protect the health and safety of Oklahomans.”
Maybe so, but the recreational use of marijuana has made the growing, packaging and selling of pot a business that makes the eyes of a Cheech & Chong fan from the 1970s turn green with envy.
Brooke Gehring is one of Colorado’s new pot entrepreneurs. She’s growing her marijuana inside what was an abandoned warehouse in Denver, investing $3 million in the facility to turn it into a lean, green, growing machine.
Gehring told NPR that she and others who are making the Rocky Mountain State high want to change the stoner culture stereotype and show there “are true business people that are operating these companies.”
Elliott said the Nebraska and Oklahoma lawsuit, if successful, would have the disastrous side effect of returning Colorado to the bad old days when criminals sold pot.
“Despite 45 years of the federal war on marijuana, marijuana remains universally available, including in Nebraska and Oklahoma,” said Elliott.
“We’ve chosen the licensed and regulated marijuana businesses over violent criminal organizations. Colorado has created a comprehensive and robust regulatory program for the sale of marijuana in Colorado. And the data is overwhelmingly showing that Colorado has enhanced public safety, the economy, and the freedom of its citizens,” he added.