Court rules counties and cities can ban pot shops
November 12, 2011
In a decision that could impact several San Luis Obispo County medical marijuana dispensary applicants, a California appellate court ruled Wednesday that cities and counties can pass laws banning medical marijuana dispensaries. [LATimes]
The decision by the 4th District Court of Appeal in Riverside upholds both Upland and Riverside bans and is expected to empower more California cities and counties to pass laws prohibiting pot shops.
Even though the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors adopted rules allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in 2007, they have since rejected every dispensary application.
Earlier this month, county planning officials approved an application to open a medical marijuana collective in Oceano. However, it is unlikely the board of supervisors, which has extinguished three such proposals in the past five years, will vote in favor of the proposed Oceano dispensary.
Tammy Murray argued for her Compassionate Cannabis Information Center, but Commissioner Tim Murphy, who represents the area in question, cast the lone opposing vote after raising the usual issues of location and federal prohibition.
Sheriff’s officials echoed those concerns, contending that an expensive increase in patrol capability would be needed.
In July, the city of San Luis Obispo rejected three applications for medical marijuana dispensary business licenses, citing zoning code. A previous moratorium adopted in 2004 had expired.
Before Wednesday’s ruling, San Luis Obispo attorney Lou Koory said it was only a matter of time before a new applicant would come forward and challenge the city’s stance on zoning code prohibition of medical marijuana which he referred to as “void.”
Long Beach, a city which uses a lottery for its pot shop approval process, is currently considering banning dispensaries, the LA Times said.
Long Beach City Atty. Robert Shannon told the LA Times the city filed an appeal to the Supreme Court on Thursday noting that, “The law is in total disarray,” and “There is no clarity and consistency.”
“The recent decisions could give the state Supreme Court an opportunity to address critical issues that remain unsettled 15 years after voters made California the first state to allow medical use of marijuana,” the LA Times said. “Despite the state’s groundbreaking status, its medical marijuana program is the most tumultuous.”