- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 5, 2015

DENVER — A dozen sheriffs and county attorneys from three states sued Thursday to overturn Colorado’s recreational marijuana law, the latest in a string of lawsuits targeting the nation’s first legalized retail pot market.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Denver, argues that Colorado’s two-year-old constitutional amendment allowing marijuana use, cultivation and sales violates the federal Controlled Substances Act.

“If allowed to continue in effect, Amendment 64’s legalization and commercialization scheme will conflict with and undermine the federal government’s careful balance of anti-drug enforcement priorities and objectives,” the lawsuit said.

“It will directly conflict with express federal policy which prohibits entirely the possession and use for any purpose of certain controlled substances, including marijuana products,” the lawsuit continued. “Finally, it will interfere with vital foreign policy interests by disrupting the United States’ relationship with other countries which have entered into treaties and protocols with the United States to control trafficking in marijuana and other controlled substances.”

The brief names Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper as the sole defendant. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman would be charged with defending the state’s marijuana law, which was passed by the voters in November 2012.

“While we have not yet seen the lawsuit, our office will defend any legal challenge to Colorado’s marijuana law,” said Coffman spokeswoman Carolyn Tyler.

Filing the lawsuit are six Colorado sheriffs, led by Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, along with three sheriffs from Nebraska and one from Kansas, all in their individual capacity, and some also in their official capacity. Two county attorneys, one from Kansas and one from Nebraska, are also named as plaintiffs.

In December the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma filed a complaint against Colorado directly with the U.S. Supreme Court. Last month, several business and land owners sued in federal court, saying their property values had been damaged by local marijuana cultivation and retail operations.

Mason Tvert, the legalization activist who spearheaded the Amendment 64 campaign, called the sheriffs’ lawsuit “just another case of the arrest-and-prosecution industry teaming up with marijuana prohibition groups to roll back the progress that has been made in Colorado.”

“Marijuana is legal for adults in Colorado, regulation is working, and it’s time for these folks to get over it,” said Mr. Tvert, now spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, in a statement to Westword, a Denver-based “alternative” weekly paper. “Voters and elected officials adopted these laws in order to make our communities safer. It’s disappointing to see these officials, who are supposed to be maintaining public safety, try to undermine them.”

U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, Colorado Democrat, said the solution is to pass a bill he has sponsored at the federal level that would legalize recreational marijuana for adults nationwide.

“Unfortunately, these frivolous lawsuits will likely continue until we pass my bipartisan Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act and finally end the outdated federal prohibition of marijuana,” Mr. Polis said in a statement to Westword.

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