California Supreme Court To Review Medical Marijuana Cases

In reviewing the cases, the state Supreme Court will consider whether local governments can ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

After much anticipation, the California Supreme Court agreed this week to review how cities and counties regulate medical marijuana.

The High Court issued an order indicating its intent to review two controversial medical marijuana cases, Pack v. City of Long Beach and As a result of this week's decision, both cases have been vacated in anticipation of the High Court's ruling.

In reviewing the cases, the state Supreme Court will consider whether local governments can ban medical marijuana dispensaries given that the drug is legal under California voter-approved Proposition 215. The court will also review the continued conflict between state and federal law. Under federal law, marijuana is illegal.

The Pack decision held that some dispensary regulations may be preempted by federal law and the Riverside decision held that municipalities can legally ban dispensaries altogether.

The Supreme Court has not yet scheduled oral arguments, and it will likely be years before rulings are issued.

In a Jan. 19 statement from Joe Elford, Chief Counsel of the country's most vocal medical marijuana advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access, this week’s decision was lauded.

"These cases were very problematic for patients and their ability to safely and legally access a medication that works for them," Elford said. "We're very pleased that local governments will now be unable to use appellate court decisions to deny patients access to medical marijuana in their own communities."

Arguing that Pack was erroneously decided, ASA along with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the County of Santa Cruz filed a brief on December 12 requesting that the California Supreme Court review the case.

“Although the Pack decision, issued in October of last year contradicted other appellate court rulings, several cities and counties across California have used it as a reason to suspend regulatory ordinances or completely ban local distribution,” Elford said.

During the January 11 Wildomar City Council meeting, City Attorney Thomas Jex provided a presentation that highlighted both the Pack and Riverside cases. He said the appellate court decisions helped bolster local jurisdictions’ bans on the drug, including the Wildomar ban. Lake Elsinore and the County of Riverside also have bans in place.

In recent weeks, The shutdowns were bolstered by the Riverside decision,

A third medical marijuana dispensary case, People v. G3 Holistic, was also granted review by the Supreme Court this week.

Tonto January 21, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Anybody but Oblamer :)
Bud Green February 01, 2012 at 07:15 AM
If you or someone you know may be at risk of being charged with possession, distribution, or manufacturing cannabis, there is something you should do at the very first chance you get: Place a decal on every package of cannabis, and on every book about it, and on every piece of equipment connected with it that reads: "It is the right and duty of a jury to find the defendant not guilty of violating any unjust law or law which is being applied unjustly. This is true even when the prosecution has proven every allegation contained in the information or indictment against the defendant." If you are in an mmj state you should add, "The possession of cannabis for medical purposes is legal under (put in correct state law.)" This forces the prosecution to choose between not submitting an item bearing this decal as evidence or having one of the prosecution's witnesses read it aloud in open court on cross examination.
Bud Green February 01, 2012 at 07:17 AM
Obama has once again just this week thrown patients under the bus by refusing, each year of his presidency, to even answer questions put to him on the matter during his online forums. Nice try, but you fail, kemosabe.
Mark Godfrey February 01, 2012 at 06:36 PM
America has serious problems, can we please stop acting like a little harmless houseplant is one of them?
Summer Hemphill May 30, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Please read "A Judge's Plea for Pot" an Op-Ed in the N.Y. Times dated May 16th. This moving & compelling piece written by N.Y. Supreme Court Justice Gustin L Reichbach should be required reading irregardless of one's personal feelings about this important health issue. His courage & eloquence should be applauded !


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