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Federal Government Backs Colorado In Neighboring States Pot Lawsuit

By Rick Sallinger

DENVER (CBS4)- A surprising update on a lawsuit over legal marijuana in Colorado filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska: now the federal government is backing Colorado in a friend-of-the-court brief requested by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is a war between the states with marijuana the battleground. Law enforcement argues legal pot from Colorado is ending up in Oklahoma and Nebraska where it is illegal.

But Steve Horwitz an owner of the Ganja Gourmet on South Broadway feels those states should be grateful.

Marijuana Legal Medical Pot Generic
(credit: CBS)

"I think they are making people when they pull people over with marijuana in their car and they are getting a bust they are making money with all the fines they are charging," he said.

Now the U.S. Justice Department, is in effect, on his side by asking the Supreme Court to toss out the lawsuit against Colorado because of jurisdiction.

Its brief says the issue is whether, "One state's laws make it more likely that third parties will violate federal and state law in another state."

CBS4's Rick Sallinger interviews Sidney Police Chief BJ Wilkinson (credit: CBS)

Earlier this year CBS 4 News went to Nebraska to see this border war up close driving along with Sidney Police Chief BJ Wilkinson who said, "What we are asking for is tell us that Colorado is in violation of federal law and make them rescind their legalization statute."

RELATED STORIES: Marijuana Legalization Story Archive

The evidence is contained in seizures marked Colorado Department of Revenue including pot from one dispensary right across the Colorado border in Sedgwick that CBS4 visited with a hidden camera.

"What happens if i take that into Nebraska?" Reporter Rick Sallinger asked a clerk, "I can't recommend that from a legal standpoint," was the reply.

But some may not have been taking that advice.

Sallinger asked a man in a vehicle with Nebraska license plates, "Are you planning to take that out of state?" to which he replied, "I can't answer that it might incriminate me."

Marijuana Pot Plant Generic
(credit: CBS)

The outcome of the lawsuit rests on America's highest court.

The Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman who represents the state in this lawsuit says she continues to be concerned the risks posed by legalized marijuana, but believes that "this lawsuit is without legal basis and is not the way to fix America's broken drug policy."

CBS4's Rick Sallinger is a Peabody award winning reporter who has been with the station more than two decades doing hard news and investigative reporting. Follow him on Twitter @ricksallinger.

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