Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Oklahoma is Lit Up in SCOTUS

The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has denied leave to the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma to file a complaint against sister state Colorado for passing legislation legalizing and regulating the sale of marijuana within it's borders. SCOTUS would be exercising it's original jurisdiction had it taken the case - it has such jurisdiction to resolve disputes between the different states.

The SCOTUS decision does not impact my small corner of Texas, except so far as it provides increased cover to our state legislature to decriminalize ganja possession. I happen to think such legislation a no brainer, but it is not for me to decide. I can, however, point to the hypocrisy, particularly of Oklahoma, for expending money and time in pressing the complaint.

From the motion for leave filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska:
In passing and enforcing [legalization of marijuana], the State of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system enacted by the United States Congress. Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining Plaintiff States’ own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems. (emphasis added).
 Oklahoma indeed has a problem with stress placed on their criminal justice system, but it is not from importation of marijuana from Colorado. Instead it is from methamphetamine transported and sold within their own borders. Oklahoma is consistently at or near the top for meth labs, illustrated by this chart, albeit a bit dated, showing Tulsa county OK as the county with the most meth labs (979) in the USA. Meth is a crisis throughout the midwest.

The denial of leave to file was not without much consideration and dissent. The motion for leave was re-listed for conference consideration 4 times. Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Alito dissented from the denial for leave to file. Their logic was that although treated as discretionary, the exercise of original jurisdiction as worded in the U.S. Constitution is mandatory. Moreover, these two felt even if discretionary, in light of federal legislation on the books forbidding possession, growing, and transportation of the evil weed across state lines, original jurisdiction was proper.

Their points are well taken, and underscore the wrongheadedness of the federal legislation.

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