Marijuana Policy Project - U.S. Supreme Court Squashes Challenge to Medical Marijuana Laws

Refusal to Hear San Diego Case Kills Major Argument Against State Medical Marijuana Laws


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by San Diego and San Bernardino Counties that challenged the validity of California's medical marijuana laws today, putting to rest a common objection by medical marijuana opponents that federal law overrides states medical marijuana laws.


"The Supreme Court and the lower courts in California have blown away the myth that federal law somehow prevents states from legalizing medical marijuana," said Rob Kampia, executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Opponents can no longer hide behind federal law in order to excuse their war on medical marijuana patients."


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.


Thirteen states have laws that allow certain seriously ill patients to use medical marijuana if their doctor recommends it. Many states, including Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York, are currently considering medical marijuana bills in their legislatures.


With more than 27,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit