Oklahoma City – Protesters gathered Thursday outside of Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office, in an effort to stand up against Oklahoma’s decision to sue Colorado.
Despite temperatures staying below freezing, protesters withstood the cold to spread their message.
“The cold is not going to keep us from standing up for an important issue,” said Steve Long, with the Libertarian Party.
The protesters weren’t loud but they had a clear message.
“States have the right to govern themselves and Scott Pruitt, while claiming to support the Constitution, is clearly violating it,” said Chelsea Kennedy, who organized the rally.
Last month, Pruitt and Nebraska’s attorney general decided to sue Colorado, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the state’s legalization laws.
Pruitt said Oklahoma is “being impacted by Colorado’s decision to legalize and promote the commercialization of marijuana which has injured Oklahoma’s ability to enforce our state’s policies against marijuana.”
The original statement goes on to say, “Federal law classifies marijuana as an illegal drug. The health and safety risks posed by marijuana, especially to children and teens, are well documented. The illegal products being distributed in Colorado are being trafficked across state lines thereby injuring neighboring states like Oklahoma and Nebraska. As the state’s chief legal officer, the attorney general’s office is taking this step to protect the health and safety of Oklahomans.”
Protesters say Pruitt’s decision to sue Colorado, claiming the state’s decision has led to more illegal drugs entering Oklahoma, is off base.
“It’s not impacting us. It’s not impacting our laws. It’s not our place to step into another state’s business,” said Kennedy.
“This lawsuit is coming from a state attorney general that has claimed to champion state rights and government overreach, yet at the same time, now he’s fighting against state rights. It’s just hypocrisy at the highest order,” said Long.
“It’s just hypocrisy at the highest order.”
“Civil discourse is a hallmark of our democracy and the attorney general respects those who take advantage of their First Amendment rights to free speech to voice their opinions. To be clear, the lawsuit filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska does not challenge in any manner or form Colorado’s legalization of marijuana for use and possession in that state. Rather, the lawsuit filed by Oklahoma and Nebraska challenges only the portion of Colorado’s law that legalized the commercialization of marijuana because those actions by Colorado have led to an influx of illegal drugs entering surrounding states like Oklahoma in violation of our state laws.”
However, protesters disagree.
“It would not be a profitable measure to go to Colorado and bring it back to Oklahoma,” said Kennedy.
In addition to protesters disagreeing with Pruitt’s stance, other Oklahoma leaders are concerned about the lawsuit as well.
“If the people of Colorado want to end prohibition of marijuana, while I may personally disagree with the decision, constitutionally speaking, they are entitled to do so. Neither the commerce clause nor the supremacy clause grants the federal government the power to regulate intrastate trade or commandeer state and local resources in pursuit of a policy. If citizens of that state don’t like it, they are free to use the process to change the laws or move to another state. The last thing we need is the federal government and the UN trying to dictate our criminal codes and control our commercial activities,” Rep. Mike Ritze said in a letter to Pruitt.
Protesters are hoping the attorney general will reconsider the lawsuit.
“I’m hoping he might change his mind. I don’t have a whole lot of hope for that,” Kennedy said.
Many of the protesters also support legalization of marijuana in Oklahoma, but they say that’s an issue for another day.