It was only a month ago that the Los Angeles ordinance was making its rounds, and TWB predicted that it would become the new weapon for cities and law enforcement in the fight against medical marijuana. My how times have changed! Not only are dispensaries being attacked by law enforcement and city councils in Southern California and Colorado, but the trend is leaking into the Bay Area as well. The San Francisco Bay area has long been considered the ‘model’ for responsible medical marijuana policy. Many people in Oakland and San Francisco would write to me in e-mails about how the situations in Denver and Los Angeles were completely different than in the Bay Area. These people felt that the raids and ordinances weren’t affecting how things were operating. According to recent news reports out of Walnut Creek, CA and Mountain View, CA, that might be changing.
The C3 Collective Dispensary, after being fined $500 dollars a day since last summer, has been ordered by to close by March 23rd for violating a city ordinance that doesn’t allow dispensaries. “There are numerous other sources of medical marijuana in this county and other nearby counties. … There are also delivery services that come to Walnut Creek,” said Bryan Wenter, assistant city attorney. “Our view is there is no denial of access to medical marijuana. This is a land use matter.” Mountain View, CA enacted a moratorium on dispensaries until at least April 18th of 2011, and even then, it’s not likely to happen anytime close to that date. With other ordinances enacted or proposed in Los Altos, San Carlos, and Redwood City, medical marijuana patients are sure to see a significant decrease in accessibility to their medicine.
The medical marijuana laws in California are getting more confusing by the day. A lot of people wonder how a program can get so out of whack. Essentially, when voters can create their own laws, cities and counties have the US Supreme Court backing to zone commercial property, and the California Supreme Court nullifies the most recent legislation, it’s bound to get hairy. There literally is no right answer; you’re going to get a different answer depending on who you ask. Law enforcement and the feds will tell you that they are enforcing the law, and only going after people that are violating the DOJ memo. City officials will tell you that they are zoning their city in a reasonable way which is perfectly legal. Patients will point to the fact that the California Supreme Court has ruled that there are no limits for medical marijuana, it’s whatever the doctor orders. AND THEY WOULD ALL BE RIGHT, from a public policy/legal standpoint. I don’t want people to think that I am supporting the opposition; that is not my point. My point is that when this goes to court, according to case law, statute, administrative law, and constitutional law, all the parties involved have a valid argument to bring to the fight.
If people don’t like the way things are going in the medical marijuana arena, get active. There is a bill being re-introduced by California Assembly Member Tom Ammiano in the legislature and an initiative for legalization going on the ballot in November. If marijuana were legalized in California, it wouldn’t matter what the medical limits were, people could exchange it freely. Zoning laws would still apply if people wanted to sell it, but it would be so widespread it wouldn’t need to be sold in stores. Once California sees legalization, the surrounding states and other ‘liberal’ states in the US would follow suit once they saw the sky wasn’t falling.