Thursday, January 01, 2015

A Federalist Settlement for Nebraska and Oklahoma v Colorado

It seems to me that there is a simple and fair settlement to be made in this case, one that will preserve Colorado's right to determine for its citizens what they should be allowed to consume, while not treading on the rights of Nebraska and Oklahoma to make different rules.

Upon application from the Attorney General of another State to the Attorney General of Colorado making such a request, the Attorney General of Colorado will issue regulations prohibiting sale of Marijuana to citizens of the requesting state.

It is already a requirement to present ID to purchase Marijuana in Colorado, so the added burden of checking which state issued the ID (or the address on the ID) is not a great one.  While this doesn't do everything possible to ameliorate the effects of legal pot on neighboring states, it addresses what must be the largest problem, that citizens of other states will simply show up, legally buy it, then bring it home.

Commercial smuggling is another matter, but the quantities involved are (my experience with enforcing Marijuana laws is basically limited to a single case I presented to a Brooklyn Grand Jury, but that is another story) generally much larger than what is permitted to be sold in Colorado, so one hopes that in the interest of reaching a settlement, Nebraska and Oklahoma will not demand an end to all legal sales in Colorado.

If we take seriously the "laboratories of Democracy" theory of Federalism, it isn't too much of a stretch to ask that states limit themselves to experimenting on their own citizens, to the extent practicable.

Suits between states were much more common before the Federalization of pollution laws. In a system of increased Federalism, there will unfortunately be increased conflicts between states, as they naturally chose differently in various areas.  I don't claim to have a universally applicable framework for resolving such disputes, but I hope this is a good initial sketch.

(In case you have no idea what any of this is about, see: the Supreme Court filing.)


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