California Supreme Court Throws Out Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ban Case
Joe | Aug 23, 2012 | Comments 1
The California Supreme Court has thrown out Pack v. City of Long Beach, a case that had been used by several cities as legal precedent to ban dispensaries, saying the case is no longer viable since the City of Long Beach has since changed the rules that lead to the suit.
The advocacy group Americans for Safe Access sent out a press release today about the ruling and what it means for patients.
Los Angeles, CA – The California Supreme Court dismissed review yesterday of an important appellate court ruling affecting medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state. Specifically, the High Court threw out the controversial decision in Pack v. City of Long Beach, which previously held that federal law preempted some forms of dispensary regulations. The Pack decision has been used by several municipalities, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, to suspend or ban outright the distribution of medical marijuana. However, yesterday’s dismissal of the Pack decision throws into question the viability of such bans.
“This is an important moment for medical marijuana patients in California,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s leading medical marijuana advocacy organization. “The California Supreme Court has essentially pulled out the rug from under local officials who have used the Pack decision to deny access to medical marijuana for thousands of patients across the state,” continued Elford. “Pack is now a dead letter and, because of the California Rules of Court (Rule 8.528), it is disingenuous for any public official to contend that the Court of Appeal decision is somehow reinstated.”
The reasoning used to dismiss the Pack case was that after the California Supreme Court decided to review the appellate decision, the Long Beach City Council repealed and replaced the ordinance with an outright ban on dispensaries thereby making moot the issues before the court. In addition, the petitioners in Pack “have now abandoned their federal preemption argument in favor of unrelated issues not raised or decided at any prior stage of this proceeding,” according to the court.
Because the recently adopted dispensary ban in Los Angeles was predicated on the Pack decision, enforcement efforts by the City Attorney would be premature and potentially unlawful. Despite threats of enforcement, patient advocates have vowed to overturn the ban in Los Angeles and are currently gathering the fewer than 30,000 signatures needed to do so.
It’s getting to the point where a good, full legalization law is needed in California just to clear up the confusion that reigns when it comes to the medical side of things. State law needs to be clear on what cities and counties can and cannot do. Any legalization measure in CA has to have clear guidelines and protections for the possibly 1+ million medical cannabis patients in the state.