California Supreme Court upholds local medical marijuana bans

Cities and local governments can ban marijuana dispensaries in their areas

A drug war is brewing in California. 

Even though state law allows patients to purchase medical marijuana for medical purposes, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday that California cities and local governments can ban pot dispensaries from operating within their borders. The court said the state’s medical marijuana laws don’t explicitly or implicitly limit the authority of local jurisdiction to regulate medical marijuana distribution, saying the state laws “do not establish a comprehensive state system of legalized medical marijuana; or grant a ‘right’ of convenient access to marijuana for medical use; or override the zoning, licensing, and police powers of local jurisdictions; or mandate local accommodation of medical marijuana cooperatives, collectives or dispensaries.” 

In a press release, the major of Riverside, Calif., who was the plaintiff in the case, hailed the decision as “a resounding victory.” But marijuana rights groups say medical marijuana dispensaries bans—which Riverside and other cities, including Fresno and Laguna Hills, have adopted—will make it difficult for patients to access their medication. 

According to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, the latest developments in California highlight the national debate over local zoning laws in relation to medical marijuana laws. 

Read more InsideCounsel stories about medical marijuana:

Cheat Sheet: The in-house lawyer’s guide to marijuana legalization

How companies should deal with marijuana legalization

Colorado, Washington legalize marijuana

Ex-Wal-Mart employee fired for medical marijuana use loses appeal

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