California Appeals Court Strikes Down Medical Marijuana Dispensary Bans

Categories: Marijuana
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S.F.'s SPARC is legal
Medical marijuana dispensaries are protected under California state law, and cities and counties have no right to ban cannabis collectives outright, according to a state Court of Appeals ruling released Monday.

The decision invalidates a ban on dispensaries in Los Angeles County, which was enacted in 2010. The decision may also strike down bans enacted in the Bay Area, in places like Danville, Daly City, and San Leandro.

L.A. County may appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court, an attorney said today. In the meantime, cannabis users' advocacy group Americans for Safe Access hailed the court's recognition of dispensaries as legal as a "landmark" ruling.
As we previously reported, Los Angeles city and county officials waited until "hundreds" of dispensaries had opened for business before deciding how to control or regulate the situation.

The county's solution was to ban dispensaries outright, a decision made in December 2010. In spring 2011, county counsel sued Alternative Medicinal Cannabis Collective, which had been operating in defiance of the ban in an unincorporated area of the county near Covina.

County attorneys argued that state medical marijuana law, including 1996's Proposition 215, did not prohibit counties or cities from enacting blanket bans on dispensaries. The attorneys also alleged that the dispensary was operating in violation of state law, though did not specify how.

In throwing out the ban, the Appeals Court noted that L.A. County's ban was "premised entirely on the conclusion that [it] was not preempted by state law," a conclusion the court roundly destroyed. The state Legislature "expressly authorized" dispensaries "as a lawful means to obtain medical marijuana under California law," the court wrote.

"[T]he repeated use of the term 'dispensary' throughout [Health and Safety Code section 11362.768] and the reference in subdivision (e) to a 'storefront or mobile retail outlet' make it abundantly clear that the medical marijuana collectives authorized by section 11362.775 are permitted by state law to perform a dispensary function," the Court wrote.

As for the question of whose law is the real law, the court cited several instances in case law where state law trumps local.

It's worth noting that county attorneys sought to shut down the dispensary in civil court, not criminal, on the basis that it constituted a nuisance. The court also ruled that state medical marijuana law prohibits such "nuisance" shutdowns in the absence of other factors, such as crime or, you know, an actual nuisance other than legal weed.

L.A. County hasn't yet decided how to proceed, according to Prinicipal Deputy County Counsel Sari J. Steel, one of the attorneys who argued the case before the Court of Appeals.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's ruling, but we're still reviewing the opinion," she said Tuesday, saying that the option is open to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Steel refused to comment further, saying, "I've been receiving a lot of calls."

The ban affected parts of Los Angeles County not incorporated into cities. Cities in Los Angeles County -- like Los Angeles proper -- are also considering banning dispensaries. These considerations may be abandoned.

The case could also impact other medical marijuana-related court cases currently under review, such as Pack v. City of Long Beach. That case is currently before the state Supreme Court.

"The court of appeal could not have been clearer in expressing that medical marijuana dispensaries are legal under state law, and that municipalities have no right to ban them," said attorney Joe Elford, Americans for Safe Access's top lawyer. "This landmark decision should have a considerable impact on how the California Supreme Court rules in the various dispensary cases it's currently reviewing."

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7 comments
saeleetracy22
saeleetracy22

This is truly amazing due to the fact that marijuana can Asist the process to cure cancer.thank you god for providing us the natural medical remedy so to all rich and poor we are all people and nomatter

tony
tony

It is amazing the in view of the passed proposition in this era of diminishing returns, that they would spend resources to pursue this course of action. The people in this state has already voted and they need to proceed with the implementation of the passed law.  They need to use their resources in fighting the Feds who will not recognize this state's sovereignty...period! 

Storm
Storm

And another very good reason to use cannabis from WebMD (2006)-  Marijuana May Slow Alzheimer's        “THC blocks an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, which speeds the formation of amyloid plaque in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. The Alzheimer's drugs Aricept and Cognex work by blocking acetylcholinesterase. When tested at double the concentration of THC, Aricept blocked plaque formation only 22% as well as THC, and Cognex blocked plaque formation only 7% as well as THC.”   So the American public is being sold drugs, Aricept and Cognex, that are relatively ineffective at preventing Alzheimer's when compared to THC! I can grow cannabis to get THC. And once grown, I don't have to smoke it, I can vaporize it, use it in cooking, or put it in capsules or make simple tinctures with a little vodka or glycerin from the health food store! What else don't you know about cannabis? Run a search for "Granny Storm Crow's MMJ Reference List" and read the studies and articles for yourself! Once the medical facts about cannabis become known, the need for legalization becomes obvious!

Malcolm Kyle
Malcolm Kyle

OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART 1): Federal researchers implanted several types of cancer, including leukemia and lung cancers, in mice, then treated them with cannabinoids (unique, active components found in marijuana). THC and other cannabinoids shrank tumors and increased the mice's lifespans. Munson, AE et al. Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Sept. 1975. p. 597-602. OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER, (PART 2): In a 1994 study the government tried to suppress, federal researchers gave mice and rats massive doses of THC, looking for cancers or other signs of toxicity. The rodents given THC lived longer and had fewer cancers, "in a dose-dependent manner" (i.e. the more THC they got, the fewer tumors). NTP Technical Report On The Toxicology And Carcinogenesis Studies Of 1-Trans- Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, CAS No. 1972-08-3, In F344/N Rats And B6C3F Mice, Gavage Studies. See also, "Medical Marijuana: Unpublished Federal Study Found THC-Treated Rats Lived Longer, Had Less Cancer," AIDS Treatment News no. 263, Jan. 17, 1997. OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART 3): Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients for nearly a decade, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had massively higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn't also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers, though the difference did not reach statistical significance. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728. OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART 4): Donald Tashkin, a UCLA researcher whose work is funded by NIDA, did a case-control study comparing 1,200 patients with lung, head and neck cancers to a matched group with no cancer. Even the heaviest marijuana smokers had no increased risk of cancer, and had somewhat lower cancer risk than non-smokers (tobacco smokers had a 20-fold increased Lung Cancer risk). Tashkin D. Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer: Results of a Case-Control Study. American Thoracic Society International Conference. May 23, 2006.

palmspringsbum
palmspringsbum

I find it telling that ASA would send out a press release about this and forget to mention that they had nothing to do with it - the attorney was J. David Nick. But they did manage to mention the name of one of the County's attorneys, and ASA's staff attorney, Joe Elford. My my my my my...

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