Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

December 12, 2008 -- DrugSense Weekly (US)

U.S. Supreme Court:

Federal Law Does Not Trump State Laws On Medical Marijuana

By Steve Kubby, Director of The American Medical Marijuana Association

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Last Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court Monday quietly, but overwhelmingly destroyed the allegations by state law enforcement that, "Federal law trumps state laws on medical marijuana."

The Supremes declined to review a lower court decision that ordered Garden Grove, California, police to return marijuana seized from a medical marijuana patient.

In November 2007, the California Fourth District Court of Appeal had ordered the marijuana returned, finding that "it is not the job of local police to enforce federal drug laws."

This was the fourth shot the Supremes had at bringing down Prop. 215 and, instead, the high court handed us a silent, but deadly victory. It may be a win by default, but it is most certainly a huge win, perhaps our greatest win to date.

Felix Kha was pulled over by Garden Grove police in 2005 and cited for marijuana possession despite showing officers his medical marijuana documentation. The case was subsequently dismissed, and the Orange County Superior Court ordered the police to return Kha's wrongfully seized quarter-ounce of marijuana.

Police and the city of Garden Grove refused to return the pot, and appealed the ruling, but lost in the state appeals court last year.

Incredibly, the Appeals Court correctly assessed the federal and state laws on medical marijuana and found NO conflict. The justices found that the federal laws were intended to stop drug ABUSE, while the state laws rightfully addressed MEDICAL use, as provided under the concept of Federalism.

Here is how the three Appeals Court judges put it:

"Congress enacted the CSA to combat recreational drug abuse and curb drug trafficking. Gonzales v. Oregon, supra, 546 U.S. at p. 271; Gonzales v. Raich, supra, 545 U.S. at pp. 10-13.) Its goal was not to regulate the practice of medicine, a task that falls within the traditional powers of the states. (Gonzales v. Oregon, supra, 546 U.S. at p. 269.)

Speaking for the majority in Gonzales v. Oregon, Justice Kennedy explained, "The [CSA] and our case law amply support the conclusion that Congress regulates medical practice insofar as it bars doctors from using their prescription-writing powers as a means to engage in illicit drug dealing and trafficking as conventionally understood. Beyond this, however, the statute manifests no intent to regulate the practice of medicine generally." (Ibid., italics added.)"

The California Supreme Court refused to review the case in March. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has followed suit. The refusals to hear the appeal means the two high courts have accepted the state appeals court's reasoning that California's medical marijuana law is not preempted by federal law and finally lays to waste the bogus claim that state police can ignore state law and arrest patients, or keep their medicine under federal law.

This is a huge win for all of us, because it removes one of the most basic foundations of law enforcements recalcitrance in obeying state marijuana laws and in upholding the rights of medical marijuana patients.

Special thanks to Americans for Safe Access and their brilliant attorney, Joe Elford, for a job well done.

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact