Supporters of marijuana regulation in Colorado are calling for the resignation of the six Colorado sheriffs who filed a federal lawsuit Thursday intended to force Colorado marijuana production and sales back into the underground market.
According to news reports, the sheriffs claim they are experiencing a “crisis of conscience” because they believe federal marijuana laws prohibit them from enforcing state marijuana laws. However, the U.S. Controlled Substances Act includes a provision that clearly states is not intended to preempt state laws, and it specifically authorizes states to pursue their own marijuana laws.
The sheriffs listed as plaintiffs in the suit are Justin E. Smith of Larimer County, Chad Day of Yuma County, Shayne Heap of Elbert County, Ronald B. Bruce of Hinsdale County, Casey Sheridan of Kiowa County, and Frederick D. McKee of Delta County.
Legalization advocates, including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), point to the many positive benefits of legalization, including that it has reduced the burden on law enforcement within the state, citing the fact that marijuana possession arrests have dropped 84 percent in Colorado since 2010. Colorado is also experiencing significant benefits, including a decreasing unemployment rate, more than $50 million in tax revenue in FY 2014-15, and reduced rates of burglary and homicide.