The Supreme Court on Monday appeared ready to accept Bush administration arguments that California’s medical marijuana law interferes too much with federal efforts to combat illicit drugs.

In spite of the conservative majority’s interest in strengthening state powers, most justices seemed skeptical of the argument that California could defy the federal Controlled Substances Act by allowing purely in-state, noncommercial distribution of marijuana for medical use. Ten states have followed the lead of California, whose voters in 1996 passed Proposition 215 to allow marijuana use in cases of medical necessity.

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