The United States Supreme Court recently heard an important case concerning the legalization of marijuana. The case stems from a challenge to the legalization of pot in Colorado. Two neighboring states, Nebraska and Oklahoma, raised the legal challenge, arguing that Colorado’s legalization of marijuana was resulting in large quantities of marijuana unlawfully crossing state borders and entering their respective states.
Even with the recent death of Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court was due to hear the marijuana case and decide whether the federal Controlled Substances Act should trump the state law making marijuana legal within Colorado. The plaintiffs in the case argue that the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause should grant precedence to federal law, which outlaws marijuana, over state law.
However, the death of Justice Scalia could make it less likely that the Court ultimately decides to grant a full review of the case because Scalia figured to support the challenge. If the Court’s current composition of eight justices ends up tying 4-4, the defendant would prevail.
Additionally, say certain observers of the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs’ case is particularly weak on the merits because Nebraska and Oklahoma lack standing to sue in the first place. One marijuana law professor at the University of Denver recently said that the plaintiffs simply won’t be able to show that they could be helped by a positive decision because the connection between the Colorado pot legalization law and the influx of marijuana within the other states’ borders is too tenuous.
The federal government has already come out against the plaintiffs, with the solicitor general asking the Supreme Court to deny the lawsuit and allow the Colorado marijuana legalization law to stand.
For the time being, marijuana remains legal, in some form, in 35 states throughout the country. Four states, including Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, have legalized marijuana for recreational use. In New Jersey, however, marijuana remains illegal. Anyone caught in possession of marijuana in the Garden State can face severe criminal penalties.
To learn more about this case, view the Esquire.com article, “The U.S. Supreme Court Is Hearing a Huge Marijuana Legalization Case Today.”
Marijuana may be legal in some states, but it remains criminalized in NJ. If you or a loved one has been arrested for simple possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute or any other drug offense in New Jersey, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact the Law Firm of Stephen R. Piper today for a free consultation.