Recently, a top Oklahoma drug attorney weighed in on the controversy surrounding Colorado’s Amendment 64, in an interview broadcast on Marijuana Public Media. The law, passed by voters in 2012, legalized the possession and sale of marijuana, prompted a suit to be filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by its neighboring states.
The two states argue that Colorado does not have authority to pass laws that conflict with the federal prohibition on marijuana: “The state of Colorado has created a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system. Marijuana flows from this gap into neighboring states, undermining Plaintiff states’ own marijuana bans, draining their treasuries, and placing stress on their criminal justice systems.”
Oklahoma’s strained budgets and clogged court systems are largely “self-imposed.” The reason for this is the over-zealous approach to marijuana Oklahoma law enforcement has had on local highways.
The increase in arrests were so substantial, in fact, that many attorneys have shifted away from roles as a general practice criminal defense attorney, to focus full-time on providing assistance and representation to those charged with marijuana-related offenses while traveling across Oklahoma.
Lawyers are also extremely concerned about Oklahoma’s sentencing laws. In the interview, he spoke about the disproportionately harsh punishments given for alternative marijuana products—like edibles, cookies, candies, oils, etc.—that are proportionally equal in weight to that of the traditional, leafy plant. For example, a brownie-sized baggie of pot would only be punishable by a fine and no jail time; however, an actual pot brownie, made with hash oil or butter and a smaller quantity of marijuana, will actually warrant a class four felony.
In the interview, the Oklahoma drug attorney calls for some restraint in the situation—for law enforcement not to pull a vehicle over merely because they have out of state license plates, or because of unconstitutional profiling practices, citing several personal experiences where he has been “pulled over” because he is “a single, white, male driving a car, heading East on the interstate.”
Other advocates of marijuana legalization have also publicly denounced the lawsuit against Colorado—like Brian Vincente, notable attorney and key proponent of Amendment 64—calling it “meritless.” Likewise, other legalization advocates, like Mike Elliot of the Marijuana Industry Group said the lawsuit, if successful would lead to resurgent marijuana black market. Mason Tvert, another proponent of Amendment 64, said proponents are “on the wrong side of history.”
“It’s unfortunate the state of Oklahoma is trying to dictate the laws here in Colorado,” Tvert said.
For Oklahoma Interstate Defense, Oklahoma law enforcement is at the heart of the problem. After all, Oklahoma and its counties are very small and have very modest budgets. Therefore, it is problematic when a police officer arrests offenders and hold them in jail at their own expense “all because he is mad at Colorado, because they legalized it and he doesn’t think it should be legal, so he is making a statement by trying to put as many people in jail as he can.”