From the day he opened his retail marijuana establishment in Old Roseville, Calif., Richard Marino scrupulously screened his customers to make sure each was qualified to buy his product. He established meticulous business procedures and even joined the Chamber of Commerce. But the Sacramento Bee reports Marino is now in court because the federal government says the man did at least one thing wrong. “He was selling marijuana,” said Gordon Taylor, chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Sacramento office.
Just which law – and whose law trumps whose – are at the core of the federal government versus Marino. The Marino case is just one skirmish in an 8-year-old war that has pitted states against the federal government and federal judges against federal prosecutors. Last week, the U.S. attorney’s office filed a civil complaint against Marino, 51, who opened his store in January to sell marijuana to people with medical prescriptions for it. In 1996, California voters approved Proposition 215, which legalized the use of marijuana as a prescribed medicine. Eight other states have enacted similar laws. But the U.S. Justice Department contends that federal drug laws pre-empt state laws. And federal laws make no exceptions for marijuana by prescription.