Friday, October 17, 2008


State High Court Won't Hear Case

The California Supreme Court yesterday declined to consider the
latest appeal from San Diego County in its years-long effort to
resist state medical marijuana laws.

"This is a resounding victory for seriously ill Californians and for
California voters," said Adam Wolf of the American Civil Liberties
Union, which is co-defending the case along with the state Attorney
General's Office and the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access.

"It's an affirmation of the legitimacy of state medical marijuana laws."

Even before the court's decision, the county Board of Supervisors
directed its lawyers to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Senior
Deputy County Counsel Thomas Bunton said.

"We always believed our best chance to prevail in this case was at
the U.S. Supreme Court," he said.

In 2006, the county sued rather than implement the state law that
requires counties to issue medical marijuana ID cards. A majority of
supervisors said they could not embrace a state law they considered a
violation of federal law.

San Bernardino and Merced counties originally joined the suit,
although Merced County supervisors later reversed course and voted to
begin issuing the cards.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal drug statutes despite laws in
at least 11 states permitting qualified patients to use it as a pain reliever.

The county's suit was rejected in Superior Court in 2006. The county
appealed and lost, then appealed again to the state high court.

Sick and dying patients, who were awarded the right to use and grow
marijuana by California voters in 1996, say the cards help police
decide who is using marijuana legally and who might be abusing the drug.

"Right now patients are being persecuted by police," said Rudy Reyes,
a medical marijuana patient badly burned in the 2003 Cedar fire. "If
I have a card, the cops know automatically what to do and how to behave."

The county has 90 days to file its petition with the nation's high
court. If the court declines to hear the case, the county would
likely be notified sometime next spring. If it is accepted, a ruling
probably would not be issued until 2010.

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