Sheriff Justin Smith of northern Colorado’s Larimer County, home to Fort Collins, is the lead plaintiff in a new lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court challenging legal marijuana in Colorado — even though the county he represented voted decidedly in favor of the pot-legalizing Amendment 64 in 2012.
Exactly 54.6 percent of Larimer County voted for Amendment 64, according to Denver Post data — with 45.3 percent voting against the constitutional amendment. A difference of 14,640 votes propelled the amendment to victory in Larimer County more than 27 months ago.
“I look at being a sheriff and what I do,” Smith told The Cannabist today from Washington D.C., where a press conference was held to announce the lawsuit, “it’s not a popularity contest. As someone who’s been a law enforcement officer for going on three decades now, you can’t just go with what’s popular …. This is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. What part of my oath do I violate? I need a judge in a courtroom to make a decision on it, because I know of no other place where I’m told to violate a federal law.”
On a statewide level, Amendment 64 passed in Colorado with 54.8 percent of voters saying they wanted legal, regulated recreational cannabis.
The five other sheriffs in the state suing Colorado all represent counties that voted against Amendment 64 in 2012 — most notably Kiowa and Yuma counties, which voted 68 and 62 percent against the measure, respectively.