County Files Suit To Overturn Med Marijuana Law

  County Files Suit To Overturn Med Marijuana Law

Posted by CN Staff on January 21, 2006 at 07:01:16 PT
By Gig Conaughton, Staff Writer  
Source: North County Times 

San Diego -- County officials formally filed a precedent-setting lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Friday that could overturn California's 9-year-old medical marijuana law ---- a suit that has angered marijuana advocates here and around the state.The seven-page lawsuit argues that California's 1996 voter-approved "Compassionate Use Act" ---- Proposition 215 ---- should be pre-empted by federal law, which says all marijuana use is illegal and that the drug has no medicinal value.
County officials and marijuana advocacy groups said the lawsuit was the first that would try to overturn any of the medical marijuana laws that voters have approved in 11 states. John Sansone, the county's top lawyer, said there was no word on when the courts might begin listening to arguments in the lawsuit. Sansone and others expect the suit to make its way eventually to the U.S. Supreme Court.San Diego County supervisors ---- all of whom were on the board when Prop. 215 was approved in 1996 ---- have always opposed the measure, and have often called it a "bad law" that could lead to drug abuse.They decided to challenge the law in December, a month after the state ordered counties to create identification cards and a registration program to support Prop. 215.Prop. 215 states that "seriously ill" people have a right to "obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes" when recommended by a doctor.Despite their general opposition to the law ---- which was passed by 55 percent of state voters in 1996 and registered a 74 percent support level statewide in a 2004 Field Poll ---- the San Diego supervisors have repeatedly said they only want to settle the contradiction between Prop. 215 and federal law."We opposed Prop. 215 when it came up; that isn't the point," Bill Horn, the board's chairman, said this week. "The issue is, the state's asking the county to do something here that they know darn well is illegal ... don't ask us to break federal law."However, the lawsuit the county filed Friday in San Diego asks the courts to ban the state from enforcing Prop. 215, essentially erasing it.Local patients who use marijuana to ease pain and national marijuana advocacy groups have blasted the board. Several speakers, including Rudy Reyes, a burn victim of the 2003 Cedar fire who uses marijuana for pain management, asked supervisors to reconsider filing the lawsuit in recent board meetings.On Wednesday, Reyes and other angry medical marijuana advocates, with the backing of the Marijuana Policy Project ---- a national group that would like to see marijuana regulated on a par with alcohol ---- filed letters of intent seeking to impose two-year term limits on supervisors, saying they had "lost touch with constituents."On Friday, Dale Gieringer, director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, also criticized the supervisors."It's probably the first time that anyone has found a board so ignorant of constitutional law that they'd waste taxpayer money on a challenge," Gieringer said. "I think the county counsel knows that it's a waste of taxpayer money, ordered by a very ignorant board of supervisors that is clearly in over its head."But Sansone, who initially told supervisors that he thought any challenge of Prop. 215 would be a "difficult, uphill battle," said Friday that he believes the county has a good argument.The lawsuit's basic contention is that federal law, which outlaws all marijuana use, should pre-empt California's law.The suit cites Article VI of the U.S Constitution ---- the "Supremacy Clause" ---- which states that the constitution and federal laws "shall be the supreme law of the land" over state laws.However, in addition, the suit cites a 1961 international treaty that the United States signed with 150 other countries ---- the "Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs" ---- that also specifically outlawed marijuana use.Sansone said Prop. 215 not only stands in contradiction to federal law, but violates the 1961 international treaty signed by the United States."Can you imagine what it would be like if each state got to decide to things in violation of international treaties?" Sansone asked. "I think this is an issue that is going to grab the attention of a lot of people."Anthony Green is a lawyer and vice president of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization dedicated to "increasing public understanding of, and appreciation for, the constitution, its history and relevance."Green said the issue at the heart of the county's lawsuit is federalism, which has been a major debate rumbling in the Supreme Court for decades: "Who has the powers? The state or federal governments?"Supreme Court justices ruled on a medical marijuana issue last year. In a June 2005 decision, the justices ruled 6-3 that medical marijuana users in California and the other 10 states that have medical marijuana laws could still be arrested and prosecuted by federal law enforcement agents.In fact, federal agents raided 13 San Diego-area marijuana dispensaries Dec. 12, including two in North County. They seized large quantities of the drug, computers and records in one of the largest crackdowns of its kind in the state. Federal officials said the dispensaries were "fronts" for distributing the drug. Marijuana advocates attacked the raids as "cowardly."Complete Title: County Files Suit To Overturn California Medical Marijuana LawSource: North County Times (CA)Author: Gig Conaughton, Staff Writer Published: Friday, January 20, 2006 Copyright: 2006 North County Times Contact: editor nctimes.comWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Marijuana Policy Project NORML Diego Fights Medical Marijuana Law Survey Says Voters Oppose Lawsuit Play: San Diego County Goes on Warpath

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Comment #9 posted by afterburner on January 25, 2006 at 09:53:32 PT
Check out this B*tch
A 'shot' across the bow of the bad ship UNSS ProhibitionistSingle Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961
1961 Convention the Cannabis Plant even belong in this dis-lustrious company? Were the framers of this legal goobledegook just paid goons to bedazzle the lazy politicians of the First, Second & Third World countries? Nixon's unscientific Schedules were domineered unto the constitutions of countries around the world (with only a few rabid prohibitists even taking the time to read the document).Interesting that "Schedule I" includes only cannabis [flowering tops] and cannabis resin [hashish], not leaves and seeds. This so-called treaty, (no matter how bogus in scientific application), includes "reservations" which allow Parties [signatory Countries] to opt out of certain provisions:for example, UK descheduling cannabis from Schedule A to Schedule B to Schedule C [equivalent to Schedule 1 -> 2 -> 3].for example, countries allowing the medical use of flowering tops if it was part of their medical tradition prior to 1961.The San Diego compadres have only one shakey leg to stand on having overstated the "Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs" obligations.San Diego History Timeline
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Comment #8 posted by kaptinemo on January 23, 2006 at 12:13:38 PT:
Seriously, how masochistic are they?
So...they want a court case? They want every fact regarding cannabis - which refutes every lie ever told about it - entered officially as evidence? Used in 'case law' across the country? By every cannabis offender's defense attorney with the slightest amount of computer literacy? They want to completely blow out of the water every prohibitionist law regarding cannabis?In the words of George the Dim, "Bring it on!"I wonder if these 'supervisors' imbibe alcohol in quantities large enough to cause cortical brain cell destruction; this attempt by theirs is indicative of the kind of confusion that results. 
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on January 22, 2006 at 22:50:07 PT

San Diego County Files Medical Pot Lawsuit 

By Leslie Wolf BranscombJanuary 22, 2006  
SAN DIEGO - San Diego County supervisors kept their promise and sued the state Friday in an attempt at overturning laws that permit medical use of marijuana.A suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego maintains that federal statutes prohibiting possession and use of marijuana pre-empt state law.Proposition 215, the "Compassionate Use Act" passed by voters in 1996, permits possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes. The state Legislature in 2003 passed a law requiring counties to provide identification cards to registered users of medical marijuana.At a board meeting in November, supervisors Bill Horn, Dianne Jacob and Pamela Slater-Price voted to refuse to implement the identification card system. Supervisors subsequently voted to sue the state to overturn both laws.No other county has refused to comply with the registration program, said Lea Brooks of the state Department of Health Services.Fifteen counties are participating, and 779 identification cards have been issued to medical marijuana users in the state, Brooks said.Supervisors are unmoved."At a time when drug cartels are flooding our streets with marijuana, and gang warfare is rampant, it's impossible for the Board of Supervisors to give its blessing to the use of a drug that is forbidden by federal law," said board chairman Bill Horn.Supervisor Dianne Jacob said: "The clash between state and federal laws has resulted in confusion and chaos. If the county were to comply with state medical marijuana laws, we would facilitate the arrest of our own residents.""It is my sincere hope that the court will resolve this convoluted situation once and for all," Jacob said.The suit, filed against the state and the Department of Health Services, says the California's medical marijuana laws are void because they not only conflict with federal drug laws, but also a 1961 international treaty.More than 150 countries, including the United States, participated in the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs that year. The treaty specifically addresses marijuana and states that parties to the treaty shall prohibit production, manufacture, export, import, trade, possession or use of the drug "except for amounts which may be necessary for medical and scientific research only."The treaty designates the National Institute on Drug Abuse as the agency responsible for any such research, making it the only legal source for marijuana in the country, according to the county's lawsuit."We think a court needs to look at facts that will show the state of California is doing things that are contrary to treaties the U.S. has entered into with other nations," county Counsel John Sansone said Friday. "It's an esoteric thing that not a lot of people know about," Sansone added. "We've taken some time to do some in-depth research."The American Civil Liberties Union plans to file as early as Monday a legal motion to intervene on behalf of medical marijuana users, said Kevin Keenan, executive director of the San Diego and Imperial Counties ACLU."Our purpose and our role is to make sure the ill and dying people who use medical marijuana have their rights represented," Keenan said."They're essentially wasting taxpayers' money, not for good legal reasons but for bad political ones," Keenan said.Medical marijuana activists have attempted to get the board to change its stance. They have rallied at the county administration building, and Wednesday they launched a petition drive to put an initiative on the November ballot to establish term limits for the county supervisors.Brooks, the spokeswoman for the state Department of Health Services, said her department had no comment Friday, since it hadn't yet seen the lawsuit.
 Copyright: 2006 Search Dot Com LLC
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Comment #6 posted by OverwhelmSam on January 21, 2006 at 14:57:59 PT

This From NORML's Site
"the U.S. Constitution set up a system of "dual sovereignty," which limits federal power over the states. This system has been upheld in a long line of U.S. Supreme Court cases. In the 1997 case of Printz v. United States, the high court stated, "The Federal Government may not compel the States to implement, by legislation or executive action, federal regulatory programs.""
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Comment #5 posted by OverwhelmSam on January 21, 2006 at 14:52:57 PT

YES! Thank You San Diego County!
Let's go to the Supreme Court with this case! The only way the court can rule is that the states have the right to pass their own laws, and are under no obligation to enforce federal laws. Or they may go ahead and nullify the controlled substance act based on the assissted suicide ruling. Either way, the outcome will be good for us.
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Comment #4 posted by whig on January 21, 2006 at 10:09:48 PT

This is FINE
"The suit cites Article VI of the U.S Constitution ---- the "Supremacy Clause" ---- which states that the constitution and federal laws "shall be the supreme law of the land" over state laws."The actual text of the supremacy clause is:"This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be Supreme Law of the land; and the Judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or Laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding."So the Supremacy clause means that the CSA trumps Proposition 215, IF AND ONLY IF it is a "law of the United States which shall have been made in Pursuance" of the US Constitution.This is a FACIAL, not an AS-APPLIED, challenge to the Proposition, but the reverse-side of this suit is that the defense MUST BE a FACIAL, not an AS-APPLIED, challenge to the CSA.Oh it's ON.
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Comment #3 posted by Toker00 on January 21, 2006 at 09:45:26 PT

Why worry?
Sansone said Prop. 215 not only stands in contradiction to federal law, but violates the 1961 international treaty signed by the United States.And all this time I thought it stood for the people in California who want to CHANGE the laws concerning the medical use of cannabis. And what Federal figure do we know who violates international treaties at will? Don't be hypocritical now."The issue is, the state's asking the county to do something here that they know darn well is illegal ... don't ask us to break federal law."Again, they are asking you to enforce the CHANGE in STATE law. Let the state worry about breaking the federal law. Something I believe is necessary in order to initiate the change. It's not like the Feds can come arrest them for enforcing state law, is it? Or is it? Why are they worried? Losing their jobs doesn't seem to be an issue with them.Wage peace on war. END CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW!
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on January 21, 2006 at 08:10:21 PT

Two Related Articles from Snipped Source
Supervisors challenge Prop. 215 County suit also takes on medical pot ID card law***Activists go to pot with knee-jerk reaction
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Comment #1 posted by mayan on January 21, 2006 at 08:00:20 PT

Send Em' Job-Seekin'
I posted this on the previous thread...Two-term limit for supervisors urged:'m not necessarily for term-limits. We are term-limits! Vote the losers out!!!
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