Our Lawsuit to Block the Legalization of Marijuana

America is Committed to Being Drug Free: For decades federal law has prohibited the production, sale, and possession of marijuana, and the United States has a treaty with most of the world’s other nations that requires it to keep marijuana illegal. Yet despite marijuana’s long-settled status under federal law, in recent years Colorado and several other states have attempted to legalize the drug and even set up complex regulatory regimes promoting its distribution.

The U.S. Constitution makes federal law “the supreme law of the land,” thus giving the federal government the power to continue to enforce federal drug laws even when a state’s laws say something to the contrary. But in 2009, the Obama Administration announced that it would not enforce the federal marijuana laws in states that purported to legalize the drug. A multi-billion dollar commercial marijuana industry sprung up almost overnight in Colorado and elsewhere. After five years of federal non-enforcement, the inevitable result has been easy youth access to marijuana, the deterioration of neighborhoods where the marijuana industry openly operates, and the rise of the drug culture everywhere.

Time to Stop Attempts to Ignore Federal Drug Laws: Together with several of its members and others who have been injured by the commercial marijuana industry in Colorado, Safe Streets filed suit in federal court to vindicate the federal marijuana laws. The suit alleges that state and local officials in Colorado are violating federal law by promoting the commercialization of marijuana. Safe Streets is asking the federal courts to order Colorado officials to comply with federal law and stop issuing state licenses to deal illegal drugs.

In addition to suing Colorado officials for giving comfort to the marijuana industry, Safe Streets and the other plaintiffs are also directly suing several prominent participants in the industry itself. Federal racketeering laws give private plaintiffs injured by the operations of a commercial drug conspiracy the right to an injunction, treble damages, and attorney’s fees. In addition to shutting down the operations targeted in its suit, Safe Streets hopes that its use of the federal racketeering laws will serve as a model for other business and property owners who have been injured by the rise of the commercial marijuana industry.

Despite the contrary laws of some states, the production and sale of marijuana remains a serious crime under federal law. Safe Streets is asking the federal courts to do what the Executive Branch should have asked them to do all along: uphold the rule of law and close down the illegal marijuana industry.