The Death of Antonin Scalia Could Impact Marijuana Law

This week a court case filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska is being considered by the Supreme Court. The case concerns the legality of Colorado’s marijuana program and is backed by the claim that Colorado’s legal marijuana is causing an increase in criminal activity in its neighboring states. The attorney generals of Nebraska and Oklahoma cite the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution which states that federal law (prohibition of marijuana) takes precedent over state law. The court case has the potential to have a major impact on marijuana law. University of Denver law professor Sam Kamin states, “Conceivably it could mean that the court finds that Colorado’s and every other state’s regulations of marijuana are preempted by federal law and have to be annulled or repealed, or can’t be enforced.”

Justice Scalia’s death on Saturday could have a major impact should the Supreme Court take the case. Justice Scalia, a staunch supporter of states’ rights, may have voted on the side of Colorado had he been alive. Now that the supreme court is at a four-four split, how the Supreme Court deals with the lawsuit in the absence of a ninth judge may have a lasting influence on the court’s procedures.

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