14 Sep 2014
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Federal Crackdown On Local Medical Marijuana Challenged

The legal tangle over medical marijuana continues.

Federal Crackdown On Local Medical Marijuana Challenged

Despite statewide, several in the area still remain open,

Now the courts may decide whether the feds' action is legal.

Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy organization, filed suit in federal court Thursday challenging the Obama Administration's attempt to subvert local and state medical marijuana laws in California.

Click here to read about California's medical marjuana laws.

ASA argues in its lawsuit that the Justice Department has "instituted a policy to dismantle the medical marijuana laws of the State of California and to coerce its municipalities to pass bans on medical marijuana dispensaries."

In Riverside County, medical marijuana dispensaries are banned. Lake Elsinore and Wildomar have also banned them. The only city in the county to allow dispensaries is Palm Springs.

The ASA lawsuit filed Thursday accuses the Obama Administration of commandeering California's legislative function and interfering with local laws, but it does not challenge the federal government's authority to adopt and enforce federal marijuana laws.

The lawsuit states that, "It is, rather, the ... misuse of the government's Commerce Clause powers, designed to deprive the State of its sovereign ability to chart a separate course, that forms the basis of plaintiff's claims."

"Although the Obama Administration is entitled to enforce federal marijuana laws, the 10th Amendment forbids it from using coercive tactics to commandeer the law-making functions of the State," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the lawsuit Thursday in San Francisco's federal District Court. "This case is aimed at restoring California's sovereign and constitutional right to establish its own public health laws based on this country's federalist principles."

The ASA lawsuit, which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, was filed on behalf of its 20,000 members in California.

Last week, State Attorney General Kamala Harris renounced the federal government’s tactics, claiming that "an overly broad federal enforcement campaign will make it more difficult for legitimate patients to access physician-recommended medicine."

As California's legal tangle over medical marijuana continues, legislation was introduced this summer to remove cannabis from the schedules of controlled substances.

Introduced June 23, HR 2306 -- otherwise known as the Ending Federal Prohibition of Marijuana Act -- is sponsored by Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank and Texas Republican Ron Paul along with others.

According to advocates, the bill aims to better enable states to pass their own laws, regulations and taxes regarding marijuana.

On Aug. 25, the bill was referred to a subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

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