California State Supreme Court Rules Cities & Counties Can Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

May 6, 2013 17:02 pm · 38 comments

The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that cities and counties have the right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries within
their borders, despite the existence of a state law that protects patients who use the drug.

The court said the scope of the voter-approved Compassionate Use Act of 1996, or Proposition 215, and a related 2003 state law is “limited and
circumscribed” and does not prevent local governments from prohibiting marijuana dispensaries.

Currently, 193 California cities — including more than 40 in the greater Bay Area — ban medical marijuana dispensaries, according to
statistics compiled by Americans for Safe Access, an Oakland-based marijuana advocacy group.

Twenty counties, including Contra Costa, prohibit dispensaries within unincorporated county land. The court issued its ruling in a case in which a Riverside dispensary, the Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Center, was challenging a city zoning law prohibiting such facilities.

Proposition 215 and the state’s Medical Marijuana Program law of 2003 protect seriously ill patients who have a doctor’s recommendation from
being prosecuted under state law for using the drug for medical purposes. Lawyers for the Riverside business unsuccessfully argued that local bans on dispensaries should not be allowed because they conflicted with the two state laws.

The court, in a decision written by Justice Marvin Baxter, said the state measures are merely “incremental steps toward freer access to medical marijuana” and do not require local governments to allow dispensaries.

Baxter wrote that nothing in either law limits the authority of a city or county “to regulate the use of its land, including the authority to provide that facilities for the distribution of medical marijuana will not be permitted to operate within its borders.”

Bay Area cities that prohibit marijuana dispensaries include Concord, Antioch, Benicia, Calistoga, Corte Madera, Dublin, El Cerrito, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Milpitas, Morgan Hill, Newark, Petaluma, Redwood City, San Rafael, Sunnyvale, Union City and Vacaville, among others.

Americans for Safe Access Chief Counsel Joseph Elford said, “This ruling maintains the status quo,” since it upholds existing bans.

At the same time, Elford said, the decision “seemingly allows localities to choose to regulate marijuana dispensaries” and thus permit them
to exist. “We urge localities to choose to regulate dispensaries,” he said.

Forty-four California cities currently have regulations that allow dispensaries, including Oakland, Martinez, San Jose, San Francisco and Santa
Rosa, according to Americans for Safe Access.

Ten counties, including Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Sonoma, have such laws. The state high court justices’ questions during arguments in the case in San Francisco in February had indicated that the court was likely to
uphold the local bans.

The two California medical marijuana laws protect patients from being prosecuted under state drug laws, but federal laws criminalizing marijuana use make no exception for state laws.

In addition to prosecuting marijuana growers in criminal cases, U.S. attorneys in California began a law enforcement effort in 2011 to use
civil forfeiture lawsuits to crack down on dispensaries they consider to be large-scale commercial enterprises.

The lawsuits are filed against dispensary landlords, including a pending case against the landlord of the Harborside Health Center in Oakland,
the state’s largest medical marijuana dispensary.

© 2013 by Bay City News, Inc. — Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

George May 6, 2013 at 5:10 PM


B.E. May 6, 2013 at 5:21 PM

Because marijuna is so evil? Don’t worry we still have guns and drunk driving to kill people with!

the other jj May 6, 2013 at 5:32 PM

mary jane the tax collectors worst nightmare

anon May 6, 2013 at 5:35 PM

@ B.E.
Yes, because marijuana is so evil. This is very true for the developing teenage mind..The increased THC levels can reach the 90%. Our youth are experiencing more and more drug induced psychosis…

Bill May 6, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Kids can already obtain Marijuana with ease.. What’s the point of bringing them up in this discussion? Even if the dispensaries are allowed in the community, Marijuana is still illegal to sell to minors and it is illegal for minors to possess! Get real, even the height of the “Just say NO” drug war years it was easier to get than beer

It’s real simple, you don’t want it fine, then you don’t get the tax revenues from it. It is still in your community just like it always has been. Whatever…

Howard K Mullins III May 6, 2013 at 6:11 PM

This surprised me.

Following the rule of law, Federal law trumps state. The Fed says its illegal to grow and sell marijuana. Therefore any laws the state make are void automatically.

So why this? The state passes its own laws in contempt for the Feds. That’s not nice of the state. The Feds need to take over the management of the state. The local people just cannot elect people to rule over them, the government needs to decide that. And then increase the penalty for using marijuana for people who break this law. Preferably death. But don’t forget to get those abortion pills 15 yo who loves to get pregnant.

Em Dubya May 6, 2013 at 6:14 PM

“The dope is easy to get, so why bother” argument sounds a lot like this:

Skin cancer is easy to get, so sunscreen is a waste of time.
Cavities are easy to get, so brushing your teeth is a waste of time.
If being drunk in public were legal, the jails wouldn’t be so full.

Also – why can’t puppies be sold in SF, and soda sold from vending machines can’t be sold on SF city property, but dope stores are as prevalent as coffee houses in SF? They have it all figured out, so the discussion is as pointless as sunscreen.

anonymous May 6, 2013 at 6:16 PM

I don’t want the tax revenue
I don’t want kids using it.
I’m tired of marijuana addicts

Anon May 6, 2013 at 6:17 PM

Good! We just found out that a family member is growing at my father in laws house. Completely taking advantage of her “free place to live” until she is back on her feet. Right. It’s been 4 years now. Leeches. And she says its legal since she has a permit? No way. We are real close to calling the authorities .

TinFoiler May 6, 2013 at 6:24 PM

” The Feds need to take over the management of the state.”
And for the rest of you – it’s a WEED. Grow your own and Stop broadcasting to your neighbors.

Wyteflyte May 6, 2013 at 6:26 PM

Tax revenue……nothing says everyone
Has to do it. Our economy is in the toilet,
A practical solution. States don’t follow federal
Law anyway, look at the haven for illegals.

B.E. May 6, 2013 at 6:31 PM

I feel I should argue, but I forget this is a page dedicated to close minded ignorant people who feel the need to make anything and everything illegal they don’t understand. It’s not about availability to kids, its about availability to people who don’t ABUSE it. Alcohol is MORE readily available to kids, and yet its continued to be sold EVERYWHERE. How many times do you read in the newspaper of marijuana related deaths?
Now how many deaths do you here about; drunk driving, alcohol poisoning, drunk decision related incidents.
Such a bigoted, hypocritical society.

TinFoiler May 6, 2013 at 6:51 PM

#12, I agree – I’ll jump in with some FACTS for the Morons:
We just had a 20 year old Female KILL a motorist on hwy 24. There are NO statistics of drinking & driving vs. marijuana use & driving – Because DRUNK DRIVERS KILL people, Not people trying to cure themselves with CANNABIS.

Em Dubya May 6, 2013 at 7:00 PM

B.E. –

I enjoy a little mischief so I’m going to hassle you.

I’ll take the crowd enjoying a bottle of Duckhorn Howell Mountain over the crowd enjoying a bowl of shaggy blue gorilla any day of the week.

No apologies. Sorry.

Blah Blah blah May 6, 2013 at 7:01 PM

I agree with B.E.

This page is so ignorant. Here is a news flash the “war on drugs” is a huge failure and a waste of taxpayer money.

@anonymous #8
You realize that caffeine is more addictive right?

@ anon #9
How do you know that your in laws are not cool with it? She might be supplying to dispensaries too and giving them money to stay there. Honestly as parents age sometimes they like older kids to stay and help. My own father in law hid his grow from his kids too because of how anti they were until they realized how much healthier he is then his wife who takes tons of “legal” meds.

PuhLease May 6, 2013 at 7:35 PM

B.E You got it buddy! People are so closed minded in this pispoor excuse for a suburb. Little Johnny has ADD so lets give him pharmaceutical Methamphetamine. Little Suzy has anxiety so let’s give her some form of benzodiasipine. Mr. Smith gets hammered and beats his wife but damn those stinky pot plants next door. I hate panhandlers and bums but sign wavers are annoying get rid of them. I hate second hand smoke but let’s ban the e-cigarette even though it’s a safe nearly odorless alternative.

Subterfuge May 6, 2013 at 7:39 PM

I actually agree with this ruling. Time to change the law so that pot clubs can not be banned so long as they meet appropriate licensing requirements as any business should.

Mutts May 6, 2013 at 7:45 PM


anonymous May 6, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Dear BE. Excellent point. Because we have a big alcohol problem, we should add to it with marijuana?

Interesting to see the pot heads deride others who don’t agree with them as “Close (sic) minded ignorant people”

Shuley May 6, 2013 at 8:09 PM

This ruling is not unexpected. There are actually a lot of dispensaries in this area, but they are all delivery only. So, it makes it much harder for them to be regulated/taxed, etc. In fact, I know of at least two that won’t ask you for your doctor’s rec. So, the city is actually doing less service to the people by banning. It just drives it underground.

However, this won’t probably hold up. The legislature is already looking at bills to amend 215 that will change the language and disallow municipal bans. So, the Supreme Court ruling will be defunct. The tide is still heavily moving towards overturning the prohibition. 2016 we will see a recreational legalization measure on the ballot and it is polling towards yes right now. Naysayers need to get over it. We are past the tipping point.

@anon #4 90% THC? You must be stoned. Wrong. The highest strains available approach 25-30% and that is only if a master grower grows it knowing what he or she is doing. There may be kids experiencing drug induced psychosis, but not from marijuana. Meth, prescription drugs, XTC, etc. maybe. So, we legalize marijuana, tax it, and beef up our drug task forces to go after dangerous drugs.

Shuley May 6, 2013 at 8:12 PM

@ Em Dubya

Your argument also sounds a lot like this:

“Criminals won’t get background checks, so why require them?”

Shuley May 6, 2013 at 8:15 PM

@ Howard K Mullins

I guess you have never heard of the 10th amendment..

Johnny bot May 6, 2013 at 8:33 PM

I own my own business. I have a family and I pay my taxes. I probably make more money then most of you. I also work harder.

I have a marijuana card and I buy delicious edibles to help me sleep and relax and help with anxiety and headaches.

But yes we all look like we’ve overdosed for years

Triple Canopy May 6, 2013 at 8:58 PM

It took the CA Supreme Court to decide this? Duh.

There is no entitlement to allow any land use within any jurisdiction… it’s about local decision-making and allowing local jurisdictions to determine what land uses are appropriate or inappropriate within their commmunity.

Watch for new legislation from idiots like Ammiano (D-SF) or Lee (D-Oakland) that will require local jurisdictions to provide “reasonable accommodation” for these drug-dealing operations like the State mandated with “emergency” (homeless) shelters.

If environmentalist potheads would put their bongs down long enough to visit State and national forests where illegals have set up plantations they’d be appalled at the damage they do to the land with garbage, human waste, chemicals, booby traps, and water diversion that deprives the floral and fauna systems.

Oh,.. it’s medicine! Then it’s OK??? HYPOCRITES!!!!!!

anon May 6, 2013 at 9:23 PM

can we at least agree that the views of Howard K Mullins III are pre-defined by FOX NEWS and can be discarded by thinking people?

Shuley May 6, 2013 at 9:31 PM

@ Triple Canopy

So, if the city decided to ban pharmacies, forcing people to go long distances for their hydrocodone, xanax and percoset, you would be okay with that? What if the city decided to ban gun stores and firing ranges? Local jurisdictions are not always able to hold power over deciding every single type of business allowed. This has been a long court battle originating in the 4th district based on interpretation of 215.

As for the issue of illegals setting up plantations in the National forest, your complete ignorance on this subject shows. The crap those people grow is not being sold to dispensaries. Dispensaries (at least the decent ones operating openly in the more tolerant areas) know their suppliers, test their medicine for molds, bacteria and pesticides. They know the strains, potency and medicinal effects. They know specifically which cannabanoids an terpines are in each strain so people can get what helps them.

The “illegals in the forest” are the RESULT, not the cause, of prohibition and if legalized and regulated, they would not have a market for their crappy, miracle grow weed. You don’t get it. Just like alcohol prohibition. Take it away and the black market dries up, along with the crime that exists with it.

nytemuvr May 6, 2013 at 9:42 PM

I managed a few warehouses in my working day and I would rather have a pothead work for me than an alcoholic or someone that drinks every night and is hung over for most the next day.

anonymous May 6, 2013 at 10:04 PM

Sorry Shuley. The tipping point you described was first described 40 years ago when a proposition on the ballot failed. People (dummies like me) voted to let people use it for real medical issues. Look whats happened. The delivery people deliver it to anyone, Kids do have much easier access to marijuana, and dummies want to grow it in the open.

Does it induce psychosis in some people? Google that subject and you’ll find that it does.

Look at long term chronic marijuana users and tell me its good for society.

Anon May 6, 2013 at 10:12 PM

WAAAA But we passed P215, we did waaaaa……..

Bunch whiners! Grow something nice in your yard, funts.

GOOD May 6, 2013 at 10:16 PM

Now we just need someone to propose the repeal for the next election and all will be great

News Flash May 6, 2013 at 11:07 PM

There IS no “Marijuana” problem. The problem is the ignorant sheeple. Marijuana is NOT going away, as in, never ever, ever, ever ever. It is a natural God given plant for us to use for it’s 100’s of uses. The first law in the US regarding Marijuana was REQUIRING farmers to grow a certain amount in their fields, for paper, rope, clothing, etc.

We’ve already witnessed what a huge failure trying to make it illegal has done. Fail with a capitol F. Washington and Colorado get it. If you make it 100% legal, all of a sudden all the illegal drug trade goes bye bye, everyone is safer.

Want to ban something that actually does kill people? Start with Alcohol, then cigarettes, then prescription drugs. Ever heard of someone killing someone while smoking? No? Never? You sure? That’s because unlike alcohol, Marijuana is a calming spiritual plant.

Now go bubblewrap yourself and sit in a corner while waiting for the world to end.

TheOneWhoWokeUp May 7, 2013 at 12:54 AM

We better ban flowers too we cant let cannabis be the only plant to be banned someones kid might be allergic to bees and those damn pesky flowers attract them, I don’t want my kid to die because of these harmful flowers if he/she were allergic to them or to bees.

Doesn’t this sound so stupid why are we making nature illegal? Meanwhile there’s drunks running around in front of Brendan theaters here in downtown Concord at midnight yelling “HIT ME, COME ON!” but that’s OK because its a legal substance lets not mind those. That is not something to consider… me and another car almost hit the idiot crossing in the dark drunk off his ass.

Grower4ever May 7, 2013 at 1:56 AM


anonymous May 7, 2013 at 9:49 AM

Dear Grower4ever,

Your post says it all about marijuana addicts , such as yourself. Should you find yourself sober read it again.

Lori May 7, 2013 at 11:33 AM


Say What???

James May 7, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Shuley, you are possibly the only person posting on this blog that has a working brain.

90% THC, Were all overdosing… Why do people persist to talk out of their ass’. Not even the most potent WAX HASH has 90% THC, let alone a bud that is mostly made up of carbon plant matter. Oh, and its IMPOSSIBLE to overdose on THC, and that is a proven scientific fact.

Please do at least A LITTLE research before posting your ignorance all over the internet. I don’t know if you have realized this, but heads up, other people can see how stupid you are too.

Shuley May 7, 2013 at 12:20 PM

@28 anonymous

40 years ago? Are you nuts? 40 years ago we didn’t have 18 states (+ DC) where some form of marijuana use is legal. There are 10 more states with measures or legislation in the works. 40 years ago you could not walk into brick and mortar establishments openly selling marijuana. 40 years ago we didn’t have legal recreational use polling above 50% nationwide. 40 years ago, the “War on Drugs” had not even commenced yet. 40 years ago we were nowhere even close to where we are now as far as tolerance, legalization, etc.

As far as long term use, nobody is saying that it is “good for you”. But long term MJ users have far less health issues than alcoholics, cigarette smokers, millions on prescription drugs, people who use chewing tobacco, etc etc. If you are referring to the big study linking pot use to psychosis in teens, you should try reading the study. It was inconclusive. It found some instances where teens indeed had psychotic symptoms. But, it could not link them directly to MJ use. Also, it found some kids with existing psychotic symptoms were actually able to alleviate those symptoms using MJ.

We should have the freedom to choose whether we want to use MJ just like we have the freedom to smoke cigarettes, cigars or drink booze. All of those things harm far more people than MJ ever did. you don’t like it, don’t use it. But it’s past the point where it is going away. Way past it.

James May 7, 2013 at 12:27 PM

No matter what side your on, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, just please make it an educated one.

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