The California Supreme Court has determined that local jurisdictions can ban marijuana operations.
Medical marijuana facilities simply do not have the same state protections as medical marijuana patients, reasoned the court in a written opinion released Monday, and can be regulated by local zoning laws.
The decision came in a lawsuit involving the city of Riverside and the Inland Empire Patient's Health and Wellness Center.
The center had argued that the city had no right to close it, relying on two state laws, the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP). According to Monday's decision:
They remove state-level criminal and civil sanctions from specified medical marijuana activities, but they do not establish a comprehensive state system of legalized medical marijuana; or grant a ‘right’ of convenient access to marijuana for medicinal use; or override the zoning, licensing, and police powers of local jurisdictions; or mandate local accommodation of medical marijuana cooperatives, collectives, or dispensaries.
Beverly Hills passed an ordinance banning the clinics in February of 2011. No clinics were operating in the city at that time, making the ordinance more of a pre-emptive strike.
Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch reacted favorably Monday to the decision and the principles driving it.
"I'm in favor of cities retaining as much local control as possible, said Mirisch in an email. "Zoning should be a matter for individual municipalities."
Beverly Hills Patch has also reached out to the Beverly Hills City Attorney for reaction.
Marijuana advocates are urging state legislators to pass pending medical marijuana regulatory bills, including SB 439, introduced by State Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), and AB 473, introduced by Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco).
"The ball is in the legislature's court to establish statewide regulations that both meet the needs of patients and keep communities safe,” said Don Duncan, California's policy director for Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group that supports medical marijuana. "Patients should not be pushed into dark alleys in order to obtain a medicine that has been deemed legal by the voters of California."