Federal Law Does Not Pre-Empt California's Medical Marijuana Policy


Yesterday a California judge issued a tentative ruling that rejects an argument by three counties (San Diego, San Bernardino, and Merced) that the state's medical marijuana law is unenforceable because it conflicts with the federal Controlled Substances Act. Although the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the federal government can continue to charge medical marijuana users under the CSA despite California's law, the judge said, that does not mean California's law is invalid. According to the ruling, the removal of state penalties for medical use of marijuana does not constitute a "positive conflict" with federal law.

The case was brought by the three counties, which have resisted implementing the medical marijuana law by issuing ID cards to patients with doctors' recommendations. The ACLU, which represented patients in the case, says the counties have indicated they will now comply with the law.