TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a challenge to the constitutionality of the state’s drug law.

The outcome of the case being heard Tuesday could result in freeing hundreds — if not thousands — of prison inmates. The state is appealing a Manatee County judge’s ruling that struck down the drug law.

Circuit Judge Scott Brownell dismissed charges against 42 defendants in 46 proceedings in September. He ruled the 2002 law violates constitutional due process requirements. That’s because it eliminated a requirement to prove defendants have a “guilty knowledge” that drugs they allegedly possessed, delivered or manufactured were illegal.

Brownell’s decision followed a similar ruling by a federal judge in Orlando. That decision also is on appeal in the federal court system.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.

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