News Release


DATE: January 20, 2006

CONTACT STEVE SCHMIDT AT 619-531-4766 or 619-206-9108



The County has filed a lawsuit in Federal court against the State, challenging medical marijuana laws, San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob said today.

Contrary to Federal law, which makes the possession and use of marijuana a federal crime, the State has approved Proposition 215 that allows the use of medical marijuana. In addition, the State Legislature passed a law mandating the County to issue medical marijuana identification cards to persons who use marijuana for medical purposes.

“Federal law makes the cultivation, distribution, and use of marijuana for any purpose illegal,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Horn. “The Supreme Court in Gonzales v Raich has ruled the federal government has the power to arrest and prosecute patients and their suppliers, even if medical marijuana is permitted under State law. Last month, DEA agents raided 13 San Diego-area marijuana dispensaries, seizing large quantities of the drug, computers, and records. We believe Federal law takes precedent over State law.”

California voters approved the use of medical marijuana by passing Proposition 215 ten years ago, but the issue has remained in limbo because the State law was in conflict with Federal law.

SupervisorJacob 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. The County refuses to create such a reckless legal absurdity. It is my sincere hope that the court will resolve this convoluted situation once and for all.”

Chairman Horn said, “While there are side issues on the use of so-called medical marijuana, including lack of documentation on its medical value and sales to non-medical users, our main concern is to determine the legality of the State law.” He added, “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.”

Horn said the County’s team of attorneys led by County Counsel John Sansone will file the legal action in Federal court to seek a ruling whether Federal law preempts the State medical marijuana laws.