Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy organization, filed suit in federal court today challenging the Obama Administration's attempt to subvert local and state medical marijuana laws in California. ASA argues in its lawsuit that the Obama Justice Department (DOJ) 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." The DOJ policy has involved aggressive SWAT-style raids, criminal prosecutions of medical marijuana patients and providers and threats to local officials for merely implementing state law, ASA's press release says.
"Although the Obama Administration is entitled to enforce federal marijuana laws, the Tenth 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 today 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 who are directly and adversely affected by the DOJ actions.
Although the lawsuit accuses the Obama Administration of commandeering California's legislative function and interfering with local laws meant to distinguish between medical and non-medical use, 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 plaintiffs' claims."