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Michigan top court: communities cannot bypass state marijuana law

The Michigan Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] unanimously Thursday that cities may not pass ordinances that conflict with the state's five-year-old medical marijuana law [text]. John Ter Beek, a resident of Wyoming, Michigan, challenged [Detroit News report] a 2010 Wyoming zoning ordinance that prohibited the use of marijuana, arguing that his status as a qualified medical marijuana patient and the 2008 state law forestalled the ordinance. The court found that Wyoming's ordinance directly conflicts with the state's law by imposing penalties for an act protected by the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. The court also found that the state's law was not invalidated [Detroit Free Press report] by federal law criminalizing marijuana because the state law, which legalizes use of the substances for a limited class of individuals, does not interfere with federal enforcement of the prohibition. The ruling may invalidate related ordinances in other cities as well, including Livonia and Bloomfield Hills.

Marijuana legalization [JURIST backgrounder] has created controversy in the US and abroad, and JURIST Guest Columnist Alex Kriet predicts that 2014 will be a groundbreaking year [JURIST op-ed] for marijuana policy. In January the Florida Supreme Court approved [JURIST report] a citizen initiative to vote on the legality of medical marijuana. Uruguay President Jose Mujica [official website, in Spanish] signed a bill [JURIST report] in December making the country the first to legalize the sale and production of marijuana. The American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in October challenging Arizona's medical marijuana regulation banning the use of marijuana-derived extracts. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie [official website] in August sent a proposed bill back to the legislature [JURIST report] that would have made the drug more accessible to patients. In August Illinois Governor Pat Quinn [official website] signed a bill [JURIST report] making the state the twenty-first in the nation to approve some form of medical marijuana legislation.

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