CONTACT Nebraska, Oklahoma sue Colorado - Dr. Christian Thurstone

Today, the attorneys general of the states of Oklahoma and Nebraska announced that they have filed suit against the State of Colorado for its cannabis legalization — a violation of federal law that has harmed Coloradans and people living in surrounding states — especially children and teens.

Oklahoma and Nebraska have taken their case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a marijuana-policy organization I serve as a science advisor, issued the following statement:

“We support this action by the attorneys general of Oklahoma and Nebraska because Colorado’s decisions regarding marijuana are not without consequences to neighboring states, and, indeed, all Americans.

“The legalization of marijuana is clearly in violation of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and is not implemented in a vacuum. Already, surrounding states have seen a surge in marijuana-related trafficking activity. Dealers and traffickers are openly bragging about how they have been able to smuggle state-sanctioned marijuana out of Colorado. The underground market has thrived under Amendment 64, and ever-potent gummy bears, candies, and concentrates have flooded the national marijuana market.

“Although states should be able to determine appropriate sentencing and criminal/civil sanctions, uniform federal drug laws regarding legalization are vital since one state’s action inevitably affects people in other states.

“After almost a year of marijuana legalization, it is clear that the Department of Justice’s eight priorities have become an afterthought for both state and federal officials. They aren’t working. And so surrounding states have been forced to take action.

“We support this action.”

Here are the U.S. Justice Department’s eight stated “enforcement priorities” as outlined in August 2013:

  • Preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors;
  • Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;
  • Preventing the diversion of marijuana from where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
  • Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or illegal activity;
  • Preventing violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana
  • Preventing drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
  • Preventing the growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands; and
  • Preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property

About Chris Thurstone

Dr. Christian Thurstone is one of only a few dozen physicians in the United States who are board-certified in general, child and adolescent and addictions psychiatry. He is Director of Behavioral Health Services at Denver Health and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado, where he conducts research on youth substance use and addiction and serves as director of medical training for the university’s addiction psychiatry fellowship program. You can read more about him here.

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