Alabama Not Lenient to Marijuana

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Alabama, which has some of the nation's toughest drug laws, has become an unlikely ally of California in its defense of marijuana use for medical reasons.

When the US Supreme Court heard arguments last week on California's medical marijuana law, the documents before the justices included legal arguments filed by Alabama Attorney General Troy King.

To the Republican attorney general, it's an issue of states' rights rather than drug-control policy.

Alabama is not a lenient state when it comes to marijuana. Between 1995 and 2002, the state averaged 9,446 arrests per year for possession of marijuana.

The state attorney general has become a defender of states' rights. Alabama raised similar states' rights issues in October when the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether states should be able to execute killers who are 16 and 17 years old.

The Bush administration, which opposes California's law, argued that medical marijuana would undermine federal drug control programs.

King wasn't alone in filing his arguments. They were signed by the attorneys general of Louisiana and Mississippi, two states also known for tough drug laws.