Drug Law

U.S. Supreme Court Gives Medical Marijuana Advocates Good News

| by Marijuana Policy Project

WASHINGTON --- The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case brought by San Diego and San Bernardino Counties that sought to challenge the validity of California's medical marijuana laws, removing the last obstacle to medical marijuana ID cards being issued to qualified patients throughout California.

Nine counties have failed to begin issuing the state-mandated cards, often citing the San Diego lawsuit as a reason. "The court has flattened the last faint justification for counties refusing to issue ID cards to legally qualified medical marijuana patients," said MPP California policy director Aaron Smith. "We expect all nine counties that have delayed issuing cards to start following the law immediately and stop putting patients at needless risk."

San Diego County, which is required by California law to issue ID cards to legally qualified medical marijuana patients, had challenged the state law, claiming it was preempted by federal anti-marijuana statutes (a claim that had never even made by the federal government, despite its opposition to medical marijuana).

San Bernardino County had joined the litigation. The preemption claim was firmly rejected by every court that reviewed the case. The California 4th District Court of Appeals wrote in its unanimous ruling, "Congress does not have the authority to compel the states to direct their law enforcement personnel to enforce federal laws."

After the California Supreme Court refused to hear San Diego's appeal, the counties went to the U.S. Supreme Court with its claim of federal supremacy, and the U.S. Supreme Court today refused to hear the case. "It's time for San Diego and San Bernardino Counties to end their war on the sick and obey the law," Smith said. "And taxpayers should hold to account the irresponsible officials who wasted their tax dollars on frivolous litigation."