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Medical Marijuana: California Appeals Court Upholds State Law, Rejects San Diego County Claim

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #546)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

In a July 31 ruling, California's 4th District Court of Appeals upheld the state's voter-approved medical marijuana law against a challenge from conservative county supervisors in San Diego and San Bernardino counties. Federal drug laws do not preempt California's medical marijuana law, the appeals court held in a unanimous decision.

The purpose of the federal law "is to combat recreational drug use, not to regulate a state's medical practices," wrote the 4th District Court of Appeals Associate Justice Alex McDonald.

San Diego county had filed a lawsuit against the state in 2006 challenging the validity of the state's ID card program, but also aiming to undermine the state's medical marijuana law overall. San Bernardino and Merced counties later joined the lawsuit. The recalcitrant counties lost in Superior Court that same year, and now they have lost again on appeal. (Merced County dropped out after the superior court ruling, opting instead to obey state law and implement an ID card program.)

But San Diego County supervisors are not yet prepared to heed the will of the voters. They announced on Tuesday that they would appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court.

Still, medical marijuana advocates celebrated the decision in County of San Diego v. San Diego NORML et al. as a victory for medical marijuana patients and states' rights.

"This is a huge win for medical marijuana patients, not only in California, but across the country," said Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access, who argued before the appellate court on behalf of patients. "This ruling makes clear the ability of states to pass medical marijuana laws with an expectation that those laws will be upheld by local and state, if not federal, officials."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

It is a disgrace that our police and politicians are ignoring the will of the voters and the laws of our state. Plus, the representatives of the people of San Diego are wasting tax dollars fighting this ludricous batte. I hope the people vote out these imbessiles at the next election. Plus, any police officer who refuses to uphold the laws of our state should be fired instantly. Enough is enough!

Norman Lepoff, M.D. retired

Fri, 08/08/2008 - 2:05pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

We vote for these people to represent the will of the general population. They have used their power for their own agenda, ignoring completely the ideals, values, and will of hundreds of thousands if not millions of registered voters.
enough is enough, this is beyond absolutely rediculous> If i said what i wanted to say it would'nt get posted because of vulgarity, but this is BS, insane, rediculous, asinine, unbelievable, and extremely upsetting.

These supervisors are the reason people go on shooting rampages or commit suicide. Remember Steve McWilliams? RIP. Instead of resting in peace he is resting in pain.

Thanks San Diego... You really suck!

Mon, 08/11/2008 - 9:43pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

If I were a San diego resident I would be circulating petitions to remove these clowns from office and make them personally liable for all the tax dollars they have flushed down the toliet over their own personal beliefs that they know better than the entire state of California.

Tue, 08/12/2008 - 10:11pm Permalink

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