Colorado Reaction to Supreme Court Pot Ruling

June 2005

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled federal law trumps state law when it comes to marijuana use, and that the Feds can prosecute those who possess and grow marijuana for medical reasons even if they have a state permit to do so, how are our local officials reacting? The Rocky Mountain News reports:

  • Rep. Mark Udall
  • U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., has co-sponsored legislation that would let states decide the medical marijuana issue for themselves....Udall said Monday's court ruling was "turning federalism on its head." "These are medical decisions. I think the experts have made clear there is some value in medical marijuana for certain people with the right controls and the right oversight," he said. "With the (approval) of the people in these states, those laws have been put in place. It's unfortunate that states' rights are being overturned and run roughshod over." In agreeing to co-sponsor Frank's bill, "A main part of my decision was to keep faith with the voters of this state," Udall said, referring to a medical marijuana measure approved by Colorado voters in 2000.
  • Rep. Bob Beauprez:
  • (Beauprez) is personally opposed to the legalization of marijuana and medical marijuana, but he respects the will of Colorado voters and is a strong states' rights advocate," spokesman Jordan Stoick said.
  • Rep. Joel Hefley:
  • Hefley does not believe Congress should "micromanage" any state, "(but) he also doesn't believe that there is a need to relax the U.S. policy on marijuana for medical purposes," spokeswoman Kim Sears said.
  • Sen. Ken Salazar:
  • Before he became a U.S. Senator, former Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar cautioned patients that the state constitutional amendment approved by Colorado voters was unlikely to protect them from federal prosecutions. He was not surprised by Monday's ruling and thinks it's unlikely Congress will take any action on the issue for the foreseeable future, spokesman Cody Wertz said Monday. "There's so much before Congress, I'd be surprised if this is even a priority on the leadership's list," Wertz said.
    In other words, Reps. Beauprez and Hefley and Senator Salazar don't feel your pain.
    The Denver Post reports these reactions:
  • The DEA:
  • While the decision affirmed the legitimacy and superiority of federal drug laws, federal authorities in Colorado said Monday that they don't consider the ruling a reason to pursue medical marijuana users. "We do not target people who are using medical marijuana," said Karen Flow- ers, spokeswoman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Denver.
  • Colorado Attorney General John Suthers (from the Post Editorial)
  • Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said the ruling would have little practical impact locally. "The state doesn't care about people with cards allowing them to grow 6 ounces or less," Suthers said. "We do cooperate in state-federal investigations, where the feds target large distribution networks. If federal authorities find medical marijuana in the course of such an investigation, they are required by law to destroy it.

If you are a user or want to preserve the rights of those who are, what can you do? In the next few weeks, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment that would prevent the federal government from spending funds to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. Urge your elected officials in Congress to support the Amendment. Click here to send a fax.