Monday, August 27, 2012

California Supreme Court Dismisses Review of Dispensary Case, Could Throw City Bans into Jeopardy

The California Supreme Court added another contradiction to the state's medical marijuana landscape. What's the best way to describe the new wild, wild West of medicinal cannabis? Confusing, though even that would be understating the current situation.

Though voters approved the medical use of marijuana and though most citizens seem to have no problems with the medical marijuana dispensaries that have sprung up in California's major cities, lawmakers on the local level and law enforcement officials on the federal level are determined to shut down access. Pack v. City of Long Beach is a recent example.

A medical marijuana dispensary defended itself in court by asserting that federal drug laws trumped municipal laws regulating dispensaries because marijuana is still illegal at a national level. The court agreed with the dispensary but cities used the decision to justify wholesale bans on the storefronts.

However, the California Supreme Court dismissed review of the case's appellate court ruling. This means that cities (including Los Angeles) that have used the Pack ruling as justification for wholesale bans on dispensaries face the possibility of their laws being nullified. reports:

The reasoning used to dismiss the Pack case was that after the California Supreme Court decided to review the appellate decision, the Long Beach City Council repealed and replaced the ordinance with an outright ban on dispensaries thereby making moot the issues before the court. In addition, the petitioners in Pack "have now abandoned their federal preemption argument in favor of unrelated issues not raised or decided at any prior stage of this proceeding," according to the court.

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