marijuanaAfter the recent spate of marijuana legislation around the country, marijuana has been legalized fully in four states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska). Nineteen other states have varying degrees of legalization for medical marijuana, and still more are working on legislation currently.

Though it can seem that “everybody” has now come around and is supporting the legalization of marijuana, there are still interested groups out there who don’t think this is the right idea. They have now begun to file suits against government officials, marijuana producers, and others who are involved in the new industry.

They are all members of a group called “Safe Streets,” which is based in D.C. and aims to fight both drugs and crime. Safe Streets is led by a former Department of Justice appointee named James Wooton.

The group’s main legal argument is that federal law still holds marijuana to be an illegal substance. There is wording in the Constitution which makes federal law superior to state law. Therefore, Safe Streets argues, states cannot actually legalize marijuana unless the federal government does so first.


According to the federal government’s long-held position on marijuana, it’s one of the most dangerous substances out there, even worse than cocaine. It’s listed as a Schedule 1 drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse and no medical value. However, medical marijuana has been progressively more available and permitted among the states for at least a decade, and the feds have not shut it down.

While the feds have also not officially backed down on their stance that marijuana is dangerous and should not be legalized, they have made some concessions in the face of the changing public opinion. For some time now, the Obama administration has signaled to federal officials that they should not attack areas with legal marijuana. In the end of 2014, it was even slipped into a budget bill that medical marijuana stores, where legalized, would not be permitted to be raided or hassled by federal officials. It’s clear that while the feds don’t approve of marijuana, they’ve decided they have other fish to fry.


Considering the fact that the federal government has stepped back and signaled their approval of the new marijuana laws, this series of lawsuits is unlikely to succeed. It has the feeling of a child who has not gotten his way, and so is pitching a tantrum to make sure nobody else can enjoy their victory. These lawsuits, petty as they are, will have the unfortunate effect of lessening the credibility of any subsequent lawsuits regarding marijuana.

The worst part about this is that there are actually legitimate problems with legalizing marijuana. Safe Streets could have focused on the fact that in Colorado, where marijuana has been legalized for just over a year, there is a spiking rate of children being hospitalized for accidental marijuana consumption.

They could have focused on the ease of access to the drug which teenagers will now encounter. Again in Colorado, there are drastically increased levels in the number of teens being treated for marijuana abuse.

They could have objected to the potential for brain alterations and loss of IQ points in young adults, as several studies have shown that young marijuana users suffer an average loss of 8 IQ points, and they also suffer damage to their “executive functions” like memory, learning and impulse control. This is problematic because recent studies have discovered the human brain doesn’t complete its adolescent growth until the mid-twenties.

When there is more evidence of the damage that legal marijuana can cause, Safe Streets will hopefully re-assess their strategy and provide a more appropriate lawsuit or counter-action.

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