Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Re-Potted: Cities Can Now Ban Pot Clubs, But Dispensaries May Still Benefit 

Wednesday, May 8 2013
Comments

A major roadblock in the way of medical cannabis reform in California was removed Monday when the California Supreme Court issued a long-awaited ruling, which says that cities can ban pot clubs. For now.

At least 200 places across the state, including San Mateo County and the East Bay's tonier cities, have not taken kindly to the state's medical marijuana scene and have banned pot clubs. They are within their rights to do so, the court ruled on Monday. This means the Southern California dispensary that fought a ban in Riverside will be shut down, and other cities and counties could follow suit.

That might sound bad to cannabis advocates; however, the court did point out that medical cannabis dispensaries are perfectly legal in California. What's more, nothing is stopping the Legislature or the electorate from going further and crafting a law that says bans aren't allowed.

Lawmakers in Sacramento have tried and failed to reform medical marijuana before. An oft-cited reason for the failure was the pending decision in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center. The Supreme Court's move was a prerequisite before a meaningful regulatory state framework could be crafted, the story went.

In its ruling, the Court said that the state's two major laws which allow the medical use and distribution of cannabis — the 1996 Compassionate Use Act and the 2003 Medical Marijuana Program Act — prohibit state and local law enforcement from upholding the laws that make marijuana illegal. These do not, however, stop local governments from putting laws on their books that declare medical marijuana dispensaries a nuisance, the court ruled.

But the Court may in fact be pushing the marijuana movement along. To wit:

"We have consistently maintained that the CUA and the MMP are but incremental steps toward freer access to medical marijuana, and the scope of these statutes is limited and circumscribed," the court wrote in its unanimous decision.

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano wants to put dispensaries under Alcoholic Beverage Control authority, while state Sen. Mark Leno and Sen. President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg want to affirm dispensaries' rights to take money for pot.

The court decision maintains "the status quo," as Americans for Safe Access pointed out in a release Monday, but leaves the door open for things to be changed.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"