Jeffrey Dunn, an attorney who is representing Lake Forest, wasted no time in issuing an over-arching, hubristic crow of victory, saying that he believes Chaffee's ruling could eventually force the closure of all marijuana dispensaries in the state.
The ruling only applies to Lake Forest for now, because it is only a trial court decision. Dispensaries located in the city limits will have to close down immediately unless they get a temporary stay.
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|Jeffrey Dunn: "Were it to be appealed and this ruling upheld, this could be applicable throughout the state"|
"Were it to be appealed and a court of appeal would uphold this ruling, it could be precedent setting for other cities in California," Dunn said. "It means medical marijuana dispensaries aren't allowed in the city of Lake Forest and they shouldn't be allowed in any cities -- that's the big story in this."
Dunn immediately tried to intimidate the dispensary owners from appealing Judge Chaffee's ruling. "Were it to be appealed and this ruling upheld, this could be applicable throughout the state," Dunn said. "It will be up to the dispensaries to decide whether they want to appeal."
Orange County Superior Judge David Chaffee made the ruling in response to lawsuits by Lake Forest seeking a preliminary injunction to stop the pot shops from operating, arguing the dispensaries violate zoning laws, reports Erika I. Ritchie at The Orange County Register.
Judge Chaffee ruled that cities are legally prohibited from passing land-use ordinances that violate state or federal law. Under the judge's reasoning, marijuana is still illegal under federal law, so land-use laws allowing medical marijuana dispensaries would be prohibited.
"The United States Supreme Court has clearly stated that the use of marijuana is illegal; thereby affirming that there is no exception for medicinal use under California law," Judge Chaffee wrote in his ruling.
"Moreover, any person using marijuana for medical purposes in California can be criminally prosecuted under federal law," the judge wrote. "The Supremacy Clause unambiguously provides that if there is any conflict between federal and state law, federal law shall prevail. Unless and until Congress chooses to declassify this drug as a Schedule I narcotic, the substance remains illegal throughout the United States."
The judge also ruled that because Lake Forest's city municipal code does not specifically allow dispensaries, they must be shut down. Sounds as if "everything not permitted is prohibited," folks.
"Defendants are barred from conducting, allowing, permitting, inhabiting, leasing, renting or otherwise granting authority to use properties in the above described manner," the judge ruled.
Chaffee was the same judge who ruled in favor of the city of Anaheim when it banned marijuana dispensaries and sought to impose criminal penalties for operating them. That ruling is also being appealed and a decision is expected soon, according to Paul Anderson of City News Service.
Lake Forest sued 35 people in the city last September, including dispensary owners and retail landowners who rented space to them. Ten dispensaries have shut down since the suit was initiated; 11 of the shops continue to operate.
Christopher Glew, a lawyer who represents the dispensaries, said he will move for an immediate stay and will appeal the ruling.
"We're obviously not happy with the judge's ruling," Glew said. "Since day one, we've been trying to sit down with the city and reach a common ground. We tried to avoid the litigation process. Now we'll take this to the court of appeals."
"We anticipate a favorable outcome from the appeal court," Glew said. "We think it's a sad day for the citizens of Lake Forest in a sense that patients in the city will now be denied access to medicine pursuant to this judge's ruling."
Lake Forest Mayor Peter Herzog claimed the issue was about the city's right to enforce it's zoning laws.
"We're very pleased that the courts have agreed that the city can protect its zoning and the quality of life in Lake Forest," Herzog said.