Smoke This: Court Refuses To Intervene

We've been hearing recently about the various public victories for marijuana advocates, and this might be the most significant: the Supreme Court has refused to hear challenges to California's medical marijuana law, brought by San Diego and San Bernardino counties.

The counties, as reported by The Huffington Post's Ryan Grim, argued that federal drug laws trump California's--and that they shouldn't be required, as they are under California law, to implement ID-card programs, where approved medical marijuana users are issued ID cards they can show to police if found possessing marijuana, and which they can use to enter medical marijuana shops.

A state appeals court had ruled that federal drug law was not intended to restrict states' medical practices, according to the AP.

There seem to be two legal issues in the legal debate over medical marijuana: whether state medical marijuana laws actually contradict federal drug laws (the California appeals court didn't think so), and whether local governments and/or local law enforcement can take it upon themselves to enforce federal law as opposed to state law.

The Obama administration has said it will back off federal raids of medical marijuana patients and sellers; it's conceivable that a new administration could resume conducting raids.

The significance of the Supreme Court's action might be a psychological as much as legal: as Marijana Policy Project Communications Director Bruce Mirken said earlier this month, pushing for new state-level drug laws can be difficult when they contradict federal policy--some people think the process might be fruitless, since "the feds won't let us."

Today's action might alleviate some of that concern and facilitate marijuana initiatives in other states.

Presented by

Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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