Aug 232012
 August 23, 2012

california medical cannabisHigh Court Prohibits Municipalities From Using Pack v. City Of Long Beach To Ban Dispensaries

The California Supreme Court dismissed review yesterday of an important appellate court ruling affecting medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state. Specifically, the High Court threw out the controversial decision in Pack v. City of Long Beach, which previously held that federal law preempted some forms of dispensary regulations. The Pack decision has been used by several municipalities, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, to suspend or ban outright the distribution of medical marijuana. However, yesterday’s dismissal of the Pack decision throws into question the viability of such bans.

“This is an important moment for medical marijuana patients in California,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy organization. “The California Supreme Court has essentially pulled out the rug from under local officials who have used the Pack decision to deny access to medical marijuana for thousands of patients across the state,” continued Elford. “Pack is now a dead letter and, because of the California Rules of Court (Rule 8.528), it is disingenuous for any public official to contend that the appellate decision is somehow reinstated.”

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case was that after the California Supreme Court decided to review the appellate decision, the Long Beach City Council repealed and replaced the ordinance with an outright ban on dispensaries thereby making moot the issues before the court.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.

Because the recently adopted dispensary ban in Los Angeles was predicated on the Pack decision, enforcement efforts by the City Attorney would be premature and potentially unlawful. Despite threats of enforcement, patient advocates have vowed to overturn the ban in Los Angeles and are currently gathering the fewer than 30,000 signatures needed to do so.

Several other appellate cases remain before the State Supreme Court pending review later this year or early next year. In one of the most closely watched cases, City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Center, ASA has filed an amicus ‘friend of the court’ brief rejecting the notion that cities can ban local distribution of medical marijuana. “While municipalities may pass reasonable regulations over the location and operation of medical marijuana collectives, they cannot ban them absolutely,” read the brief. “These bans thwart the Legislature’s stated objectives of ensuring access to marijuana for the seriously ill persons who need it in a uniform manner throughout the state.”

There are currently more than 50 cities and counties in California that have adopted dispensary regulatory ordinances, which are safely and legally accommodating the needs of their patients, as well as other members of their communities. An increasing number of studies also show that regulating dispensaries decrease crime and increase the quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods.

Further information:
Yesterday’s Supreme Court dismissal: http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search/case/mainCaseScreen.cfm?dist=0&doc_id=1994201&doc_no=
ASA amicus brief in Riverside case: http://americansforsafeaccess.org/downloads/Amicus_Riverside.pdf

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With over 50,000 active members in all 50 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • Johnny oneye

    This sounds like good news, It makes no sense to me. Cal prop 215 is under attack
    something sinister is going on in CA.,FEDs shutting down shops in OC. oakland. SJ
    Oaksterdam U open ? closed?
    How much money did Opharmasantos collect from medical marijuana industry?
    how about big pharma , prison unions?
    How much money is spent on the war against cannabis/hemp?
    When will they stop? I dont think they can stop , like cancer marijuana has been a staple diet for prohibition. This is “marijuana addiction”
    FEDS lie to the public: “were not arresting patients with medical needs” bullshit!
    Arresting the suppliers is another futile attempt to wipe out the “Devils Weed”
    Wars are won by cutting off the enemies supply ,
    Cannabis is the FEDS war , not the plant itself but the financial potential it generates.
    PROP 19 pushed the FEDS and this is the recoil.
    Do these agency’s ever run out of funds?
    Do they have the resources to shutdown the entire industry?
    Confusion is another tool the drug warriors rely on .
    On that level they win , im confused!