Medical Marijuana Appeal To Set Landmark Precedent This Week

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Premium Organic Treatments Patient Collective Association (POT PCA) is located at 3148 East La Palma Avenue, Suite J in Anaheim.

​A moment of truth for medical marijuana dispensaries will come this week when California’s Fourth Appellate District Division Three will issue its opinion in the Qualified Patients vs. Anaheim case by July 19. The decision will come after a years-long appeal process closely watched by patients, advocates, politicians, lawyers, and the press.


California’s localized approach to interpreting the state’s medical marijuana law has some distinct drawbacks. Among those is the fact acting identically can either lead to profits or to jail, depending where a patient lives, points out David Downs in the East Bay Express.

Cities in conservative areas — like Anaheim in Orange County — have effectively re-criminalized dispensaries, setting up an appeals court showdown scheduled to end sometime within the next week.

California cities cannot make growing and distributing medical marijuana illegal, according to Qualified Patients’ lawyer Anthony Curiale, because Prop 215 (passed by voters in 1996) and SB 420 (in which the Assembly clarified and expanded the law in 2003) took away the criminal penalties for doing so.
If the three-judge appellate court decides in favor of Qualified Patients with sound legal reasoning, a precedent would be set which could then be used by lawyers across the Golden State in medical marijuana battleground cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Costa Mesa, and San Jose.
But Anaheim City Attorney Moses W. Johnson said the city’s ban on dispensaries has already stood up once in a trial court, and if it loses on appeal, Anaheim is threatening to take it all the way to the California Supreme Court.
Another possible outcome is that the appellate court could rule in favor of Qualified Patients, but issue an unpublished opinion inapplicable to other cities, according to Oakland attorney Joe Elford, counsel for Americans for Safe Access (ASA).
“We’re hoping it’ll be a bellwether case, but there’s no guarantee,” Elford said.
With the worse case scenario, in which Qualified Patients’ appeal fails, California would become even more balkanized in its approach to medical cannabis.
With that sequence of events, it’s likely that hard-line conservative cities like San Leandro would send even more local tax dollars to cities like Oakland that sensibly tax and regulate the $14 billion a year medical marijuana industry.
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