On May 14, the US Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal to sell or possess marijuana for medical use. The case was an appeal of a lower court ruling that the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club (OCBC) could provide med-pot to seriously ill patients with a valid medical necessity defense. The Supreme Court judges unanimously backed the federal government’s request for an injunction against the OCBC.
Some of the judges noted that this decision doesn’t address issues such as medical necessity for individual seriously ill patients, or questions of states’ rights versus federal supremacy.
In practical terms the decision has had little impact so far on state medical marijuana programs. Eight states and the District of Columbia have passed initiatives backing access to medical pot, and Hawaii has legalized it legislatively.
Despite the ruling, state medical marijuana laws retain significance. For instance, California’s measure bars police from arresting those who provide medical pot to the ill. So a state police officer is not authorized to arrest a medical user who has marijuana, but a federal drug agent could make such a bust.