You would think that when all a state wants to do is let weed-lovers light up, their neighbors would just chill and let them have serious conversations, along the lines of the following:
The Dude: It’s like what Lenin said… you look for the person who will benefit, and, uh, uh…
Donny: I am the walrus.
The Dude: You know what I’m trying to say…
Donny: I am the walrus.
But, no. The neighbors can’t get their redneck noses out of Colorful Colorado’s smokin’ hot ganja biz.
A few months ago, Oklahoma and Nebraska sued Colorado in the US Supreme Court, asking Clarence Thomas to speak up loudly enough, and Stephen Breyer to venture back from his exploration of Martian law long enough, to stamp out Colorado’s raging forest fire of legalized recreational pot sales. The wind blows east and south out of the Rockies, and those states apparently are worried about the deleterious effects on their citizens of second-hand smoke. Banks in Colorado didn’t need another reason to avoid banking the recreational MJ business, but that lawsuit certainly didn’t lessen the risk.
Recently, Sheriffs in Nebraska and Kansas, joined by six traitorous Colorado sheriffs, filed yet another lawsuit against Colorado’s governor (appropriately named “Hickenlooper”) over the same issue (legalization of recreational pot sales).
“This suit is about one thing — the rule of law,” Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said in a news release. “The Colorado Constitution mandates that all elected officials, including sheriffs, swear an oath of office to uphold both the United States as well as the Colorado Constitutions.”
The last time we saw federal supremacy thrown around so much it involved the OCC’s march-to-the-sea over the blazing husk of the 10th Amendment in defense of the right of national banks to thumb their noses at guys like Eliot Mess, the”Sheriff of Wall Street.” At that time state bank regulators and law enforcement officials weren’t so keen on the federal supremacy clause (or the National Bank Act). Now that Franken-Dodd and the Cuomo v. Clearing House Corporation decision have put chinks in the preemption armor of national banks, that particular reason for hating federal preemption doesn’t have as much steam. People who hate federal preemption in this situation are not people who want to save the state from those who would use federal preemption to break state laws, but people who want to break federal law in order to engage in a state-sanctioned activity.
Some legal experts think that the latest lawsuit has a chance of success of somewhere between “slim” and “none.”
Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver, was skeptical of the sheriffs’ argument. He said no law requires local officers to act as de facto federal drug agents.
“Of the four (lawsuits), this is the one with the least merit,” Kamin said. “They have targeted not just the (marijuana store) regulation piece but they’re also essentially saying Colorado can’t legalize marijuana. No one has ever gone that far.”
Even if true, that leaves three more lawsuits that continue to add to the risk of banking marijuana businesses, whether or not they are “legal” under state law.