WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court refused Monday to referee a simmering dispute between Colorado and two neighboring states over the cross-border impact of marijuana legalization, heartening legalization advocates who feared the high court could have rolled back their gains.
The justices denied an effort by Oklahoma and Nebraska to bring their grievances about pot-related crime directly to the nation’s highest court without seeking to go through lower courts first. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented, saying they would have heard the states’ complaint.
“The plaintiff states have alleged significant harms to their sovereign interests caused by another state,” Thomas wrote.
The petition had been pending at the Supreme Court for 15 months while the three states and the federal government made their arguments. Oklahoma and Nebraska complained that pot purchased legally in Colorado is being transported illegally into or through their states, overwhelming police and courts dealing with a sudden influx of smugglers. An ounce of high-quality marijuana selling for $200 at a state-licensed Colorado store can fetch three times that on the East Coast black market, police say.