DENVER — Colorado's Attorney General John Suthers promised to defend the state's law legalizing marijuana after Nebraska and Oklahoma asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare it unconstitutional, saying the plant is illegal based on federal law and the plant - which is legal in Colorado - is now being brought into their states where the plant is totally illegal.
The two states filed a lawsuit seeking a court order to prevent Colorado from enforcing Amendment 64, which was approved by voters in 2012, and allows adults to use the marijuana plant for smoking or other recreational, religious or medicinal uses.
The complaint says Colorado's law violates the Constitution's supremacy clause, which says federal laws trump state laws.
The lawsuit claims the legal sale of marijuana in Colorado has strained Nebraska and Oklahoma's finances and legal systems as they spend more time and money arresting people for possessing the plant , putting them in jail, taking their vehicles, seizing the plant itself and handling other issues related to laws making the plant illegal.
The suit doesn't contain statistics to support their claims.
"This contraband (i.e. marijuana plant) has been heavily trafficked into our state," Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said. "While Colorado reaps millions from the sale of pot, Nebraska taxpayers have to bear the cost."
Colorado has raised more than $60 million in taxes, licenses and fees from medical and recreational marijuana, which has been sold in stores since January 2014.
The Supreme Court might decide to handle the case or not accept it.
Utah and New Mexico have no immediate plans to join the suit.
Twenty-three states have enacted medical marijuana laws. None have been overturned because of federal law.