Published November, 2007

City of Garden Grove v. Superior Court of Orange County, 68 Cal. Rptr. 3d 656 (Cal. Ct. App. 2007)

A California appeals court found that, although there may be tension between state and federal law, federal preemption is not automatic simply because the state and federal laws have different requirements. Here, a medical marijuana patient was pulled over by the police and cited for possession of marijuana, despite showing the officers proper documentation for it. Although the charge against the patient was subsequently dismissed, and the court issued an order to return the medical marijuana to the patient, the police refused to return it arguing that such action would violate federal drug laws. The court found that the city, on behalf of the police, would not suffer any adverse effects by obeying the court order and returning the marijuana to the patient because they would not be held liable as an aider or abettor under federal law. Further, the court found that, at least in this case, federal law does not preempt state law

The California Supreme Court denied review of the appeals court decision, leading the city to request review by the U.S. Supreme Court, which was also denied. This case marks a positive step in securing access to necessary treatment for people with chronic diseases, including HIV/AIDS, that are not always helped by traditional treatment protocols.