Tag Archives: Colorado

Why the Legal Challenge to Colorado’s Adult-Use Marijuana Law Will Fail

6 Mar

A suit has been filed in federal court, by a handful of Colorado sheriffs among others, asking for Colorado’s legal adult-use program to be ended. There is one argument of significance:

The sheriffs, and some other prohibitionists, are asserting that when the state is put into the position of licensing and regulating activities that violate the CSA, they can be argued to be in violation of federal law.

That argument is not original, we’ve actually been hearing it mentioned in other parts of the country. I’ll get back to that in a minute.

The counter-argument to the CSA concern has always been that there is a 10th amendment to the US constitution, which is a guarantee of states’ rights. Also these are intra-state concerns and not inter-state concerns, so the interstate commerce clause of the US Constitution should prevent Congress from interfering with a state program. The two arguments together are quite powerful.

Unfortunately those arguments have been tried, and have failed, in the past. The Raich v Gonzalez case was decided by the Supremes back in 2005. A decade can be a long time in legal terms. We have a new court now, with new judges, and we have new attorneys who have the benefit of all the trial transcripts and motions and appeals histories. There are lawyers out there who have spent the past 10 years learning and studying and devising ways to win on those constitutional arguments.

And we’ve got a lot more than just that. When the Raich case first went to trial, we had very limited experience with regulated state medical marijuana programs. There were no state legal adult use programs. The justices and the attorneys on both sides had no data, no real world experience, on which to draw. They justified over-riding the commerce clause concerns because of the possibility that there might be public health or public safety concerns. And now, 10 years later, we have several states running regulated medical marijuana programs and the states of Washington and Colorado running legal adult-use marijuana programs. We have research and evidence showing that these programs have had a positive impact on public health, and a positive net impact on public safety.

This suit being brought against the state of Colorado by the sheriffs, it’s not an isolated thing. Prohibitionists around the world and around the nation are networked, they work together, they share information. I said before, I’ve heard some of these arguments recently. The state of Oregon is working to implement its own legal adult-use marijuana program. That state’s legislature is being lobbied by the Association of Oregon Counties and the League of Oregon Cities to give local governments more power and authority to ban marijuana businesses and to impose local taxes. Officials from those organizations have made some not-so-subtle threats that if they don’t get their way, some city or county might file suit in federal court, using the same arguments about the CSA that the Colorado suit mentions, to try and stop the Oregon legal adult-use program.

Significantly, those Oregon attorneys conceded that it’s only the regulation and licensing of sale and commercial production that could be challenged that way, and that personal use possession and cultivation could not be challenged with that argument. But I digress.

Doing a little more research, it appears that these arguments were developed in earlier cases, in Michigan and also in Oregon. They’ve been refining and expanding on these arguments over the years, and they’ve been learning from their losses. The prohibitionists think that they know what they’re doing. They don’t seem to understand that our side has also spent the past decade working and learning and sharing information, and learning from our losses as well as our victories. And we’ve been researching and assessing these programs, and their impacts on public health and public safety, and so have the states running these programs.

The prohibitionists want a replay of Raich v Gonzalez. But they must not realize what they’re asking for. The justice who wrote that decision, John Paul Stevens, retired in 2010. Federalism is making a resurgence. The evidence on marijuana legalization is finally in and it is clear that legalization is a good thing on several levels, having positive impacts on public safety and public health. The train has left the station, the tracks are clear, and this time around there are no stops until we have reached our final destination: the end of prohibition.

UN Drug Body: Marijuana Legalization in CO, WA, Violates UN Treaties

5 Mar

Latest news from the <a href=”http://www.csdp.org/cms/node/21″>Common Sense for Drug Policy blog</a>:

The International Narcotics Control Board is criticizing the decision by Colorado and Washington voters to regulate and control marijuana, saying that such a move violates international drug control agreements. As the Guardian reported on March 5, 2013:

Launching its annual report in London, Raymond Yans, the INCB president, said that the successful ballots in Colorado and Washington to legalise the use of cannabis for recreational purposes and the fact that Massachusetts had recently become the 18th state to allow the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes violate the international drug conventions.

“They also undermine the humanitarian aims of the drug control system and are a threat to public health and wellbeing,” said Yans. He claimed that so-called “medicinal use” initiatives were little more than “a back-door to legalisation for recreational use”.

The INCB has warned the US government that medical cannabis must be properly regulated. “In some US states they are being operated in a way that is completely inappropriate and outside of the conventions,” the report says.

Yans said the INCB had already been reassured by the US attorney-general that federal laws banning the cultivation and possession of cannabis would remain in force. The UN drug authorities are now waiting to see how Colorado and Washington implement their votes to legalise recreational use and what response is taken by the federal authorities.

Read more from the article at http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/mar/05/relaxation-cannabis-laws-us-un

Download a copy of the INCB’s new annual report from http://www.incb.org/incb/en/publications/annual-reports/annual-report-2012.html

Everything You Need To Know About Stoned Driving

25 Feb

My latest piece for CelebStoner has just been posted: <a href=”http://www.celebstoner.com/blogs/doug-mcvay/everything-you-need-to-know-about-stoned-driving.html”>Everything You Need To Know About Stoned Driving</a>.

From the story:

<blockquote>Drugged, or stoned, driving has been an issue of concern for several years. The Drug Czar’s office and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recently joined together to make passage of such laws, including per se limits for blood THC levels, a legislative priority.

The success of marijuana legalization measures in Colorado and Washington has pushed concerns over drugged driving to the forefront for many. Washington’s measure imposes a whole-blood THC limit of 5 nanograms per milliliter. Colorado’s measure did not have such a provision but some legislators in the Mile High State have been working for years to enact such a limit and had already announced plans to reintroduce their bill before November’s vote.

Read more at: http://www.celebstoner.com/blogs/doug-mcvay/everything-you-need-to-know-about-stoned-driving.html

Verificati​on of Colorado’s Initiative 30 (“Use and Regulation of Marijuana) to require line-by-li​ne review

19 Jan

A random sample of signatures selected by the state for verification determined that backers that backers submitted valid signatures equivalient to 103% of the total needed to qualify for ballot status, however according to the elections office a validity rate of more than 110% is required for an initiative to automatically be placed on the ballot. Validity rate of between 90-110% for a sample means that a line-by-line review of signatures will be performed.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s office issued the following news release today:


STATE OF COLORADO Department of State  1700 Broadway  Suite 250  Denver, CO 80290

Scott Gessler Secretary of State

William A. Hobbs  Deputy Secretary of State

News Release


MEDIA CONTACTS: Rich Coolidge richard.coolidge@sos.state.co.us Andrew Cole andrew.cole@sos.state.co.us (303) 860-6903

Verification of Initiative 30 to require line-by-line review

Denver, Colorado – Today Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced that the proposed ballot measure concerning “Use and Regulation of Marijuana” will require a line-by-line review of signatures.

Petitions for proposed initiative #30 were submitted to the Secretary of State’s office on January 4. The office immediately began verifying a random sample of the signatures as set forth in state statute. Section 1-40-116(4), C.R.S., requires the verification of each signature filed if the random sample shows the number of valid signatures falls between 90 percent and 110 percent of the signatures needed.

Random Sample Summary:  • Total number of qualified signatures submitted: 163,598 •5% of qualified signatures submitted (random sample): 8,180 •Total number of entries accepted (valid) from random sample: 4,436 •Total number of entries rejected (invalid) from random sample: 3,744 •Number of projected valid signatures from random sample: 88,719 •Total number of accepted entries necessary for placement on ballot: 86,105 •Percentage of presumed valid signatures: 103.04%

Because the 103 percent projection falls between the 90 and 110 percent described in statute, the Secretary of State’s office has notified the proponents the petition will require a line-by-line review. The office has until February 3 to complete the review.

For more information, visit our Initiative Information page.

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