California high court: Pot shops can be banned
SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court ruled on Monday that cities and counties can ban medical marijuana dispensaries, a decision likely to further diminish the network of storefront pot shops and fuel efforts to have the state regulate the industry.
In a unanimous opinion, the court held that California's medical marijuana laws — the nation's first and most liberal — neither prevent local governments from using their land-use powers to zone dispensaries out of existence nor grant authorized users convenient access to the drug.
“While some counties and cities might consider themselves well-suited to accommodating medical marijuana dispensaries, conditions in other communities might lead to the reasonable decision that such facilities within their borders, even if carefully sited, well-managed, and closely monitored, would present unacceptable local risks and burdens,” Justice Marvin Baxter wrote for the seven-member court.
The ruling was made in a legal challenge to a ban enacted by the city of Riverside in 2010, but an additional 200 jurisdictions have similar prohibitions on retail pot sales, the advocacy group Americans for Safe Access estimates. Many were enacted in the past five years as the number of dispensaries swelled and amid concerns that the drug had become too easy to get. A number of counties and cities were awaiting the Supreme Court ruling before moving forward with bans of their own.
Of the 18 states that allow the medical use of marijuana, California is the only one where residents can obtain a doctor's recommendation to consume it for any ailment the physician sees fit, not just for conditions such as AIDS and glaucoma. The state also is alone in not having a system for regulating growers and sellers.
“The irony in California is that we regulate everything that consumers purchase and consume, and somehow this has been allowed to be a complete free-for-all,” said Jeffrey Dunn, a lawyer who represented Riverside. “Cities and counties looked at this and said, ‘Wait a minute. We can't expose the public to these kind of risks,' and the court recognized that when it comes to public safety, we have independent authority.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kentucky firefighters recovering from ice stunt shocks
- U.S. could have done better, says brother of slain journalist
- Oklahoma City officer accused of sex assaults
- Reid apologizes for jokes at Asian business event
- Charities reconsider fundraising activities
- Mudslides plague Washington state after wildfire strips hillsides
- Rehabilitated snowy owl dies in Minnesota
- Obama pressured to obliterate ISIS as attack risks rise
- Retailers warned about software
- Ferguson residents fear return of rioting, looting
- Hackers hit 25,000 government workers