Judge upholds state's pot law

December 06, 2006

Allison Hoffman, Associated Press

SAN DIEGO - A state judge on Wednesday upheld California's law permitting the use of medical marijuana for medical purposes, rejecting a lawsuit by three counties challenging the decade-old statute.

The counties, led by San Diego, argued that local governments shouldn't be bound to uphold state laws that are weaker than the federal blanket ban on marijuana.

San Diego County sued California and its health services director in February over a state requirement that counties issue identification cards for medical marijuana users and maintain a registry of people who apply for the cards. San Bernardino and Merced counties joined the suit.

State attorneys responded that California was entitled to pass its own laws suspending state prosecution for medical marijuana use, and to legislate programs enabling qualified users to access the drug.

Marijuana users in California can still be prosecuted under federal drug laws.

Superior Court Judge William R. Nevitt, Jr., wrote in his ruling counties would not be breaking federal law by giving out state identification cards.

"Requiring the counties to issue identification cards for the purpose of identifying those whom California chooses not to arrest and prosecute for certain activities involving marijuana use does not create a 'positive conflict,"' Nevitt wrote.

The ruling affirmed Nevitt's tentative November judgment.



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