- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

DENVER (AP) - Sheriffs in Colorado and two other states may not like legal marijuana, but they don’t have the ability to force Colorado not to allow it, Colorado argued Friday in a motion asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit from 10 county sheriffs in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska.

The lawsuit is one of several legal challenges Colorado faces after legalizing recreational pot in 2012. The sheriffs say that recreational pot burdens law enforcement and should be axed.

Colorado asked the U.S. District Court in Denver to dismiss the claims. Colorado bans exporting marijuana, the state attorneys argue, so any complaints about pot showing up in neighboring states can’t be blamed on the state.

“Colorado continues to prosecute out-of-state marijuana trafficking,” Colorado’s lawyers wrote, citing indictments in March against 37 people accused of diverting pot from Colorado to Minnesota.

The state’s lawyers also flatly repeated Colorado’s insistence that states are free to regulate drugs however they like and that Congress can ban marijuana but not tell states how to enforce the ban or even whether to enforce it.

“States maintain primary responsibility for protecting public safety by defining crimes and enforcing them,” Colorado argued.

The lawsuit is the latest legal challenge to legal weed. Nebraska and Oklahoma have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down marijuana legalization in Colorado. The Supreme Court hasn’t said yet whether it will hear that case.

A group of Colorado residents have filed their own federal challenge, saying marijuana reduces property values.

The sheriffs noted that more than half of Colorado’s recreational pot sales last year were sold to out-of-state visitors, according to data from Colorado’s marijuana regulators. “The scheme enacted by Colorado for retail marijuana is contrary and obstructive” to federal drug laws, the sheriffs argued.

There was no timeframe from the federal court in Denver to decide whether to dismiss the sheriffs’ lawsuit.

The Colorado plaintiffs are Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, Yuma County Sheriff Chad Day, Elbert County Sheriff Shayne Herp, Hinsdale County Sheriff Ronald Bruce, Kiowa County Sheriff Casey Sheridan and Delta County sheriff Frederick McKee.

The Nebraska plaintiffs are Deuel County Sheriff Adam Hayward, Deuel County Attorney Paul Schaub, Cheyenne County Sheriff John Jenson and Scotts Bluff County Sheriff Mark Overman.

The Kansas plaintiffs are Sherman County Sheriff Burton Pianalto and Charles Moser, attorney for Sherman, Wallace and Greeley counties.


Kristen Wyatt can be reached at https://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt



Sheriffs lawsuit: https://bit.ly/1MaFu6V

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