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CA's Supreme Court Hears Dispensary Case

Rich 2013-02-05 0 comments

By Lauren Payne | February 5, 2013

University of San Francisco hosted the special Supreme Court session. (Photo credit: Shawn Calhoun)

Today, in a special session held at University of San Francisco School of Law, the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Center.

While we have no way of knowing what the Court will ultimately decide, the questions posed by the Justices during oral arguments reveal some of their reservations and concerns regarding the legality of dispensary bans enacted by cities and counties in the State of California.

Under the Medical Marijuana Program Act (SB 420), regulation of dispensaries is allowed, but the legislation does not explicitly address whether or not cities and counties can ban dispensaries outright.

Where the legislature doesn’t include clear legislative language, the Court has to decide whether the legislative intent outweighs the traditional exercise of zoning power. The power to create land use “zones” comes from the State Constitution.

Land use law, derived from Constitutional doctrine, gives cities and counties a lot of power to make blanket zoning decisions regardless of what we may think is reasonable regarding dispensaries. The Justices have 90 days to write the final opinion for City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Center.

Hopefully the Court will say bans are illegal, but it’s quite possible they will rule the other way.

It’s time to rally the troops to start lobbying cities and counties to revisit their bans and convince the state legislature to amend the MMPA to require access in every county in the state.

Stay tuned for a more in depth analysis of the oral arguments from