Colorado already is being sued by two neighboring states for legalizing marijuana. Now, the state faces an additional federal lawsuit from its own citizens.
Plaintiffs who oppose legal pot are appealing to federal courts to try to shut down Colorado's $800-million-a-year marijuana industry. They plan to announce details of the claim Thursday morning at the state Capitol.
In response, marijuana legalization supporters, including a state lawmaker, plan to march to the Capitol in support of regulated weed.
The lawsuit is being sponsored by a group called the Safe Streets Alliance, which is based in Washington D.C. and opposes marijuana legalization.
Colorado's attorney general, who would defend legalization if the lawsuit goes to trial, did not immediately comment on the claim.
The state also is being sued by Nebraska and Oklahoma for legalizing marijuana in 2012. In that case, Colorado has until March 27 to respond to the arguments from the two states.
Both lawsuits call on the federal government to shut down the marijuana industry because it violates federal drug law.
Legalization supporters say that states are free to stop enforcing certain drug laws, as long as they don't try to overrule the federal Controlled Substances Act.
Technically, pot is still illegal for any purpose in the 23 states that have authorized its use for people with certain medical conditions. Even states that allow oils low in marijuana's psychoactive ingredient, THC, are violated federal drug law.
The group filing the lawsuit on behalf of Colorado residents says it wants the federal government to block recreational marijuana, but not medical marijuana. It's unclear whether a federal judge could make such a distinction — U.S. drug law considers marijuana a drug with no medical value.
In a statement, the Safe Streets Alliance said states legalizing pot are doing "irreparable harm" to the goal of protecting public health.
The Marijuana Policy Project and other pro-legalization groups scoffed at Safe Streets' lawsuit. When a press release announcing the lawsuit started circulating this week, legalization supporters shared it with relish on social media because it misspelled "marijuana."
Kristen Wyatt can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt