Today, a dozen plaintiffs — a combination of sheriffs and prosecutors — filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Denver. The suit challenges the constitutionality of Colorado’s Amendment 64. I am the lead plaintiff in this action.
This lawsuit is about one thing – The rule of law. The Colorado Constitution mandates that all elected officials, including sheriffs, swear an oath of office to uphold both the United States as well as the Colorado Constitutions. Amendment 64 established a new right under the state constitution to engage in an activity that is in violation of federal laws.
Further, it mandates that the state government and its subdivisions actively support this activity through a regulatory process. As a sheriff, it obliges me to protect this newly established right. The legal consequences of such actions can leave a sheriff ineligible to hold his or her office under Colorado law.
Given these conflicts, the United States Constitution has been clear through the Supremacy Clause that our United States Constitution is the “law of the land.” As an elected sheriff, I take my oath of office very seriously. Members of my community, from the left, middle and right, routinely remind me of the importance, not only of taking that oath, but more importantly – living up to that oath.
I don’t know if the authors of Amendment 64 intentionally hid this constitutional conflict from Colorado voters or whether they were simply unaware of the implications of their amendment, but the conflict is real. Many of the leading marijuana industry attorneys in Colorado continue to publicly acknowledge and advise their clients of the conflict. It’s an area on which we agree.
Our action today seeks to resolve a critical legal question – whether Colorado’s Amendment 64 complies with the United States Constitution and therefore with the Colorado Constitution. That question can only be resolved through the courts. No matter what your opinion on the issue, it is a question that we all need answered.