Sheriff Day was invited to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. last Thursday to announce his participation in a legal challenge to Colorado’s Amendment 64 in the Federal District Court. Amendment 64 was the amendment to Colorado’s Constitution that was passed as a statewide measure by voters to legalize recreational marijuana the controversial nature of which has garnered nationwide attention.
The suit was filed by 6 Sheriffs from Colorado, 2 Sheriffs from Kansas, and 2 Sheriffs from Nebraska. There were also 2 County Attorneys from our neighboring states as plaintiffs.
Sheriff Day’s position is very simple. “I swore an oath to uphold the Constitutions of both the United States and the State of Colorado. Amendment 64 causes me to violate a portion of that oath no matter what I do.”
The Federal Supremacy Clause, at the very least, suggests that the Controlled Substances Act passed in 1970 and classifies marijuana as a class I controlled substance, is the supreme law of the land, and the constitution requires the upholding of federal law. At its core, a state passing a law that facilitates and allows the violation of federal law seems to clearly be covered under federal supremacy. “I realize the voters of our state have spoken, but in a Constitutional Republic in which we live, the ballot box results are all subject to judicial review as a designed check and balance.”
“As Sheriff, I’m a lawman first, and when I am faced with a conflict in the law, I have this kind of recourse available for clarification. This action is not some sort of personal protest against marijuana, it is the most appropriate way to resolve what I see as a conflict question.”
Sheriff Day believes recreational marijuana to be a harmful drug, witnesses that fact, and believes that the most trustworthy data supports that position. While Sheriff Day holds that belief, the basis for his participation in this lawsuit is the basic legal question of conflicting constitutions. “I see no redeeming quality in recreational marijuana, but that is not why I’m a plaintiff in this suit.”
No matter what the outcome of this suit turns out to be, both sides should be interested in clarification from the court for this important legal question. If the courts do not overturn the provisions of Amendment 64, the issue should be considered settled and should be much less of a distraction than it is now.
“I realize that while, by a wide margin, the citizens of Yuma County did not support the passage of Amendment 64, the people of the state of Colorado did. I believe that was as a result of a well-funded, manipulative, and misleading marketing campaign that has proven to be false. Coloradoans were sold on lower crime rates, tight regulations, outrageous tax revenue, and black market demand decreases. The opposite of all of those things has happened.”
Sheriff Day is always mindful of what these kinds of decisions might cost the tax payers of Yuma County. This suit is being funded by The Drug Free America Foundation, among others, and to this point has not relied on Sheriff Day’s budget. If the time comes where Yuma County dollars are being used, the Sheriff may reconsider his participation. Until then, we’re all on our way to an important answer from the courts on this issue. In terms of time, the Sheriff said, “I’ve spent a total of about 3 days of effort in the last year and a half on this issue. Most of the work is being done by attorneys so that I can focus on what also needs attention in the office and around the county. I’d also like to express my appreciation to the overwhelming support that I and my office have received as a result of this effort. That kind of trust and support for a very controversial decision is very encouraging.”