Oakland group hails Supreme Court action in medical pot case
November 30, 2008
Bay City News Service, Oakland TribuneAn Oakland-based medical marijuana advocacy group today hailed a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to intervene in a California case concerning the rights of a patient who used the drug. The high court this morning refused to grant a hearing on the city of Garden Grove's appeal of a state court ruling requiring it to return one-third of an ounce of marijuana to patient Felix Kha.
Garden Grove police seized the marijuana from Kha during a traffic stop in 2005.
After discovering that Kha had a doctor's approval for use of the substance under the state's compassionate use law, the Orange County district attorney declined to prosecute.
Kha then asked for his marijuana back, but the police refused on the ground that the marijuana is illegal under federal law.
Last year, a state appeals court ruled that the police must return the medical marijuana, saying that "it is not the job of the local police to enforce the federal drug laws."
After the California Supreme Court declined to hear the case, Garden Grove appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in a brief order today rejected the appeal.
Joseph Elford, chief lawyer for Americans for Safe Access in Oakland, said the high court action clarifies local law enforcement's obligations and should result in fewer needless arrests.
Elford said, "It's now settled that state law enforcement officers cannot arrest medical marijuana patients or seize their medicine simply because they prefer the contrary federal law."
The California attorney general's office filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case supporting Kha's right to possess the substance.