Former DEA Leaders Appeal to Supreme Court about Colorado’s Marijuana Laws

For the first time in U.S. history, all nine former Administrators of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today filed an amici curiae brief urging the Supreme Court to consider and stop what they see as the damage being done by fracturing a carefully constructed national system of drug control—the legalization of marijuana by Colorado.

The former Administrators believe that Colorado’s law legalizing the large-scale cultivation and sale of marijuana, not only is causing great harm to neighboring states, but is in direct conflict with federal law.

Robert C. Bonner, who served under both George H.W. Bush and William Clinton from 1990 to 1993, said in a news release today, “Under our Constitution, in which federal law trumps conflicting state laws, the Colorado law should be struck down by the Supreme Court. Given our former positions leading the nation on issues of federal drug laws and regulations, we are in a unique position to provide the Court with insight into why it is critically important that these States have their day in court.”

“The impact of Colorado's legalization has already resulted in damages to other states, higher marijuana use by students, higher emergency room admissions and increased highway fatalities due to drivers testing positive for marijuana within Colorado," said Peter Bensinger, who served under Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan from 1976 to1981.

Bensinger went on to say in their news release that Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana use has opened up a bigger market for illegal drug sales in that state and nationwide.

“Marijuana has been sent to over 40 different states from Colorado. The Supreme Court needs to review this matter on an urgent basis before more damage is done in other states and to existing federal law,” he concluded.

Besides Colorado, marijuana is fully legal in Oregon, Washington and Alaska and decriminalized in 14 other states. Medical marijuana is legally available in 23 states, but remains illegal under federal law.

CADCA has issued a statement of support for the Administrators’ amici curiae brief. Read CADCA’s statement here.