Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman speaks at a news conference discussing the indictment of 32 people accused of marijuana trafficking on March 26, 2015, in Denver. Behind Coffman are Denver Police Chief Robert White, left, and Kevin Merrill, assistant special agent in charge for the Denver field division of the DEA . (Brennan Linsley, The Associated Press)

Colorado AG: ‘I don’t see anything but chaos’ if states’ pot lawsuit prevails

GRAND JUNCTION — A lawsuit filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska that asks the U.S. Supreme Court to curtail Colorado’s new recreational marijuana law could have dire consequences for all three states, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said.

Colorado argued in a response to the lawsuit that Nebraska and Oklahoma were trying to reach across their borders and selectively invalidate state laws with which they disagree.

Coffman said if the U.S. Supreme Court sides with the two states that border Colorado, the decision would take away the regulatory system that Colorado has built, but leave the legalization vote intact. Details of the potential impact on the hard-fought regulations on the marijuana industry were not available.

“I don’t see anything but chaos on the other end of that decision,” Coffman said at the Club 20 spring meeting Saturday in Grand Junction.

Coffman said bordering states where marijuana is illegal have to deal with people leaving Colorado with the legally obtained drug, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported.

Coffman said Colorado authorities are already working to keep marijuana within the state. She cited the arrests of a drug ring that was sending marijuana out of state and hauling in millions of dollars.

The appropriate target of legal action by Nebraska and Oklahoma is the federal government, which has been less than clear or direct about dealing with the four states having legalized recreational marijuana while it remains a controlled substance under federal law, Coffman said.

Colorado may have to drag federal agencies into the fray if the case continues, she said.

Information from: The Daily Sentinel