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City of Garden Grove v. Superior Court of California

Public Citizen assisted the real party in interest, Felix Kha, who was represented by attorneys at Americans for Safe Access. After Kha was pulled over for running a red light, local police officers seized Kha’s medical marijuana. The trial court judge ordered the City to return Kha’s marijuana, which he validly possessed under California law, but the City refused, arguing that the return of the marijuana was preempted by federal law.

The questions presented in the petition were:

1. Does the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment require the return of “medical marijuana” when the person from whom the drug was seized is not prosecuted under state drug laws, despite the fact that the Controlled Substances Act provides that there is no protected property right in marijuana?

2. If California’s medical marijuana laws are interpreted to require that police return marijuana seized from a “qualified patient” as defined by state law, does that requirement conflict with federal drug laws which generally make the distribution and possession of any amount of marijuana illegal?

Public Citizen assisted as co-counsel for Kha at the cert stage. The brief in opposition argued that the City lacked standing and that federal law did not preempt the City from returning Kha’s property. The Supreme Court denied the City’s petition.