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Do federal drug laws trump Michigan's constitution? High court will decide

John Ter Beek is a medical marijuana patient in Wyoming, MI
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
John Ter Beek

The Michigan Supreme Court will hear a challenge today to a local ordinance that bans medical marijuana despite an amendment to the state constitution that allows it.

The city of Wyoming, outside Grand Rapids, enacted the ordinance three years ago. It outlaws any activity that’s already prohibited by federal law. It was directed at the state’s voter-approved medical marijuana amendment, which conflicts with federal drug laws.

The city says it acted within its authority because federal laws trump state laws.

But local attorney and medical marijuana user John Ter Beek says the city cannot use federal law to circumvent the medical marijuana amendment. The challenge says courts have already ruled states cannot be required to ignore their own laws to enforce federal statutes.

Do federal drug laws simply trump the amendment to the state constitution?

Now the Court is looking for answers to some big questions — do federal drug laws simply trump the amendment to the state constitution? Or is it the other way around? Is it illegal for the city of Wyoming to try to use federal drug statutes to circumvent the amendment — and the will of 63% of Michigan voters who approved it in 2008? 

Many local governments in Michigan are struggling with how to deal with the medical marijuana amendment, including whether they have to allow dispensaries and growers to operate.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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