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State attorney general backs cannabis club against feds

The Associated Press
Thursday February 22, 2001

OAKLAND — California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is backing an Oakland cannabis distribution club in its fight with the federal government over medical marijuana. 

Lockyer filed a brief in the Supreme Court on Tuesday arguing that the state has the right to enforce its medical marijuana law. The brief was filed in connection with a case scheduled to go before the Supreme Court on March 28.  

Proposition 215 allows seriously ill patients to use marijuana. However, the law does not supersede federal antidrug laws, setting the stage for a three-year battle between supporters of the law and the U.S. Department of Justice. 

The case before the Supreme Court began when the Clinton administration sued the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club and five other Northern California pot clubs in 1998. 

A federal district judge sided with the government in its efforts to halt the Oakland club from distributing the drug. But last year, an appeals court ruled that “medical necessity” is a legal defense. 

The Oakland club, the only one of the original six still functioning, is not distributing marijuana, but is issuing identification cards to be ready if it does get a favorable court ruling.