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California: Supreme Court Upholds Authority Of Cities To Prohibit Medical Marijuana Facilities

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director May 6, 2013

    The California Supreme Court ruled today that municipalities possess the legal authority to prohibit the establishment of medical cannabis dispensaries.

    The unanimous ruling upheld a 4th District Court of Appeals opinion (City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients’ Health and Wellness Center, Inc.) which held that local zoning measures banning the establishment of brick-and-mortar facilities that engage in the distribution of cannabis to state-authorized persons are not preempted by state law. Other lower courts had ruled against such local bans, arguing that cities can’t use zoning laws to bar activity legal under state law.

    It is estimated that some 200 California cities presently impose moratoriums on medicinal cannabis facilities. At least 50 municipalities have enacted local regulations licensing dispensaries.

    Opined the Court:

    “We have consistently maintained that the CUA (the California Compassionate Use Act aka Proposition 215) and the MMP (the Medical Marijuana program Act) are but incremental steps toward freer access to medical marijuana, and the scope of these statutes is limited and circumscribed. They merely declare that the conduct they describe cannot lead to arrest or conviction, or be abated as a nuisance, as violations of enumerated provisions of the Health and Safety Code. Nothing in the CUA or the MMP expressly or impliedly limits the inherent authority of a local jurisdiction, by its own ordinances, to regulate the use of its land, including the authority to provide that facilities for the distribution of medical marijuana will not be permitted to operate within its borders.”

    Although language included in Proposition 215 explicitly called for the state government “to implement a plan for the safe and affordable distribution of marijuana to all patients in medical need of marijuana,” to date, lawmakers have failed to enact any specific statewide regulations regarding the retail production and distribution of cannabis to those patients authorized to consume it.

    Commenting on the ruling, California NORML Coordinator Dale Gieringer said, “The court essentially affirmed the status quo. Local governments may choose to allow or limit dispensaries as they please. The unfortunate result of this decision is to leave many needy patients without legal access to medical marijuana in their communities, thereby promoting illegal black market suppliers. It is time for the state and federal governments to step up to the plate and fulfill the mandate of Prop 215 to implement a system of ‘safe and affordable’ access for all patients in medical need.”

    Legislation is presently pending in both the California Assembly (AB 473) and Senate (SB 439) to impose statewide regulations governing the dispensing of marijuana produced for medical purposes.

    Full text of the California Supreme Court’s opinion is available online here.

    34 Responses to “California: Supreme Court Upholds Authority Of Cities To Prohibit Medical Marijuana Facilities”

    1. bla bla says:

      Last note: The 14th amendment actually creates a lower class of “citizen of the United States” rather than the higher Citizenship of one of the several states of the union. The remedy provided to the 14th amendment, is an act by congress known as 15 United States Statute at Large, July 27, 1868, one day before the 14th Amendment took effect and also known as the “Expatriation Statute.” This is your remedy to claim to be a natural Citizen of your state. This makes you a higher Citizen and no longer subject to the Article 4 loophole that also deprives you of your rights.

    2. Louie Dixon Jr says:

      Yup, we cannot let laws backslide people cannot get lax just because we’ve had victories.Right now in i MASS we are fighting the rules they want to set 10 dispenseraies that is 3 hours from one end of state to other then only certain ailment AIDS is covered but not chronic pain you get with AIDS, 2 OZ A MONTH NO 1 OZ A WEEK

    3. Dave Evans says:

      So, local government can decide if they want marijuana legal or not. Good, this is exactly how democracies work. This whole idea about “needing a federal policy” for marijuana is ridiculous.

      Just stop lying to people like histronics. How about barring histronics from positions of authority? If you can’t stop lying and manipulating everyone around you, you are considered unfit (George, Bill and Hilary)? Can we trust liars with money? No we can’t. Why even be worrying about a “national marijuana policy”, when everything the government says about pot was written by folks with scamming us and co-opting the government into breaking its own laws in mind?

    4. Delivery says:

      Will delivery services be affected by this ruling? Or only storefronts? I need my medicine somehow…

      [Paul Armentano responds: Since, in theory, delivery services would not be subject to municipal zoning laws, then one would not think that this ruling would apply to them.]

    5. Gweedo says:

      Frankly, I think that’s fine. Those cities will come around soon enough, as soon as they notice the tax revenue they are losing to their neighboring burgs.

    6. Chris says:

      If this was fast food “dispensaries” I doubt this ever would have passed. The blatant bigotry against cannabis consumers is really getting old. If you don’t want fast food or cannabis, then don’t consume it, simple. But we can not have a free society as long as we are trying to shut certain people out of it.

    7. Douglas says:

      Hey all u ( D-A ) What do expect? They know that u pot head are way to stupide to go regster and vote. Seem like every time Imeet a persoon that smoke pot are not regster voter.So the reason why cannabis is still out law is because all of u ( D-A ) Wont regster to vote. And the ones of us that are regster to vote . Well when they tell u they will not regster to vote for what every reason. Just SLAP THE DOG CRAP OUT OF THEM. Then walk over them that all the respect they should get.

    8. Miles says:

      It seems that the Feds, and the courts they apparently control, have a different definition of “Democracy” and “Will of the People” than the people themselves have. Don’t tell me that the people are the Feds! They are a different breed and have little in common with the average American who actually works for a living and wants to relax in peace after a hard days work.

    9. Gerald Parry says:

      Who elected these judges? I bet these are the same judges that made it illegal to throw a football on a beach! I have never seen any issues at any collective I visited in CA. They always maintain such a low profile, some you would not even know exist unless you have inside sources. If their profile is such a problem, I THINK WE NEED A LAW TO BAN STARBUCKS AND MCDONALDS! Furthermore, any city that bans collectives should have their funding from the Feds and State Reduced by the amount the collectives were paying in taxes last year! Next year the legal system will be crying about the state debt again!

    10. Julian says:

      Ok. So force cities to zone marijuana dispensaries in accordance to state law.
      Industrial hemp needs to be zoned as well to protect prime farmlands for food crops.
      Don’t just stand there city officials; zone something! Don’t be scared; the DEA got kicked out of Mexico, I’m sure we can kick them out of our states and regulate the borders regulating a legal cannabis trade where they belong.

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