Hearings begin tomorrow on whether California cities and counties have the right to outright ban medical marijuana businesses from operating. The City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient's Health and Wellness begins opening arguments Tuesday, in a case many believe will set precedence for future dispensary operations.
So far, numerous California cities have enacted bans including: Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Culver City, Dana Point and Costa Mesa. Santa Ana has had a ban on dispensaries for the last six years, though there are still several dozen still operating. Other cities have struggled to regulate the shops, including L.A., which currently has two competing proposals to allow dispensaries before L.A. City Council. Garden Grove California has a ban, but nobody has ever enforced it.
"We're not enforcing our own laws because we don't want to have big lawsuits," said Garden Grove Mayor Bruce Broadwater to the Orange County Register. "We're sort of in limbo until that case goes before the Supreme Court."
Inland Empire attorney J. David Nick told the L.A. Weekly's Dennis Romeo last month that the court will rule in favor of the medical marijuana business. Nick points out that while cities and counties can enact zoning regulations to limit the shops, councils can't ban them outright simply because they don't agree with what they are otherwise legally distributing according to California medical marijuana laws.
www.jdavidnick.com J. David Nick.
But attorneys for the city of Riverside say that since the federal government does not recognize medical marijuana, the state should rule in favor of the cities. "California cannot authorize what federal law prohibits," Dunn told the Register. "That is the crux of the argument."
Oral arguments begin tomorrow, and a decision is expected as early as April.
More from our news archive on California dispensary bans: "CA Supreme Court To Review Controversial Medical Marijuana Cases"; "CA Supreme Court Throws Out Marijuana Dispensary Ban Case"