Medical marijuana advocates to sue state attorney general

December 02, 2006

K Kaufmann, Desert Sun (CA)

A Coachella Valley medical marijuana advocacy group is funding a suit to be filed against the California attorney general, aimed at stopping the state from using federal law to prosecute legal medical marijuana users. The suit was announced at a meeting of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project today at the Cathedral City Public Library. Ken White, a lawyer from Ontario, said he had mailed the suit to Los Angeles Superior Court last month but did not yet know if it had been officially filed.

Proposition 215, a ballot initiative passed in 1996, legalized medical use of marijuana for patients with a doctor's recommendation, but some state officials, including Riverside County District Attorney Grover Trask, have argued that federal bans on the drug take precedence over the state law.

The MAPP-funded suit contends there is no conflict between state and federal law, and therefore California law enforcement personnel--police and district attorneys--should not be spending taxpayers' dollars prosecuting legal patients under the federal ban.

Riverside County sheriff's officers took part in a federal raid last March at the Sky Valley home of Garry Silva, a qualified medical marijuana user who was growing plants for a small group of patients, which is legal under state law.

"If police don't have the common sense and decency to do what state law tells them to do, we're going to have the courts tell them," said Lanny Swerdlow, president of the advocacy group.

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