New Brief in Medical Marijuana Challenge

December 17, 2007

, Fox 6 News (San Diego)

A group of California medical marijuana patients Tueday filed a legal brief opposing San Diego County's attempt to overturn state law on the issue.

In February 2006, San Diego County filed a lawsuit challenging the state requirement to implement an identification card program for qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers.

The county of San Diego argued that most of the medical marijuana laws in the state are preempted by the federal Controlled Substances Act.

San Diego County was joined in its lawsuit by San Bernardino and Merced counties.

In December 2006, San Diego Superior Court Judge William Nevitt Jr. ruled there is no positive conflict between federal and state law and affirmed the sovereignty of state law.

The counties of San Diego and San Bernardino appealed in February, but Merced County decided to implement an ID card program and a new sheriff's policy with regard to medical marijuana.

Less than two weeks ago, the city of San Diego filed a brief in support of the medical marijuana patients, asserting that the medical marijuana ID card program does not conflict with federal law and there is no excuse for the county's failure to implement the state-law mandated program.

The patients' brief was filed today by Americans for Safe Access, a nationwide medical marijuana advocacy organization.

The ASA said it is in a good position on appeal, since the California Fourth Appellate District -- the same appellate court that will hear the county of San Diego's appeal -- recently ruled in an Orange County case that state law was neither "preempted" nor "superseded" and stated further that "it is not the job of the local police to enforce the federal drug laws."

A hearing is expected on San Diego County's appeal of its lawsuit sometime next year.

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