Friday, June 19, 2009

Garden Grove loses medical marijuana fight

Today’s Orange County Register reported on Garden Grove’s extended legal battle over medical marijuana, which has cost the city close to $250,000.

Apparently the city’s police refused to return about eight grams of herb they confiscated from a patient who didn’t have his doctor’s note.

After Felix Kha produced the appropriate documents, he demanded that the police return his medicine. They refused, arguing that it was against federal law.

The city this week paid $139,000 in attorney’s fees as part of a settlement with Americans for Safe Access, which represented Kha. That was in addition to more than $100,000 the city spent arguing that federal law trumps California’s medical marijuana law.

“It’s unfortunate that the City of Garden Grove felt it necessary to challenge the rights of patients in California by spending more than a quarter of a million dollars to refuse to return medical marijuana worth approximately two hundred dollars,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access. “Nevertheless, this should force local officials to better uphold medical marijuana patients’ rights under the law.”

When the case was before the appellate court, the California Attorney General filed a “friend of the court” brief on Kha’s behalf. Several law enforcement associations, according to ASA, responded with briefs in support of Garden Grove, challenging the state’s medical marijuana law.

The city appealed both the California Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to review the decision.

“Medical marijuana advocates are hailing this landmark decision and today’s settlement for attorneys fees as a huge victory that underscores law enforcement’s obligation to uphold state law,” Elford said. “Better adherence to state medical marijuana laws by local police will result in fewer needless arrests and seizures, and will allow for better implementation of those laws not only in California, but in all medical marijuana states.” §

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