California Cities React to Court Ruling Throwing Out Dispensary Ban

CANNABIS CULTURE – Cities in California are beginning to respond to an appeals court decision throwing out Los Angeles County’s medical marijuana dispensaries ban.

The unanimous ruling handed down in County of Los Angeles v. Alternative Medical Cannabis Collective (AMCC) by the California Court of Appeals (2nd District) on July 2 states, “[T]he County’s complete ban on all ‘medical marijuana dispensaries,’ including collectives and cooperatives authorized under Health and Safety Code section 11362.775, conflicts with, and is thus preempted by, California’s medical marijuana laws.”

San Leandro has put its dispensary ban on hold, and the city of Long Beach could also be affected, according to an article in the Long Beach Post. Fountain Valley will “sit tight” on its ban, in case the ruling reaches the state Supreme Court.

The AMCC ruling comes as the City of Los Angeles is poised to consider its own ban on dispensaries on July 24, pushed by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who lost the state AG’s race to the more lenient Kamala Harris, and had a dismal showing in June’s primary for LA County DA. On July 3, in a little-noticed ruling, a panel of the Second District Court of Appeal reversed a preliminary injunction against the standing LA city ordinance, which limits the number and location of medical marijuana dispensaries. That case is remanded back to the lower court.

The rulings add to the confusion around medical marijuana in California, which awaits state Supreme Court rulings in Pack v. City of Long Beach and three other key decisions. The California Supreme Court could also decide to review the AMCC ruling.

Meanwhile, Citizens for Patient Rights submitted over 1,600 signatures to the Solana Beach City Clerk’s office on an initiative proposal to allow for not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensaries in the municipality of Solana Beach. In 2010, 55% of Solana Beach residents voted for the full normalization and regulation of marijuana for adult use.

Much like a broader effort in San Diego, an initiative campaign to bolster dispensaries in the city of Sacramento has fallen short of the 42,300 signatures needed for November’s ballot. However, an effort is being made to qualify by July 23 for a future ballot. Volunteer signature gatherers can contact the CSPARC campaign at 888-824-6863 or [email protected].

A statewide effort to disallow dispensary bans by legislation carried in the Assembly, but only after the League of Cities forced amendments that ripped the heart out of the law: instead of disallowing dispensary bans except by voter initiatives, as originally written, it was amended to specifically allow cities to ban collectives. Co-sponsors Americans for Safe Access, California NORML, and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union tried to get the Senate to restore the bill to its original intent, but in the end it was pulled by its author Tom Ammiano.

With the new court ruling, it seems medical marijuana advocates may get what they wanted after all.

Ellen Komp is Deputy Director of California NORML and a regular contributor to Cannabis Culture. She manages the website VeryImportantPotheads.com and blogs at Tokin Woman.

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