California Supreme Court Speaks Out
Cities Can Regulate or Ban Marijuana Dispensaries
SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court gave local governments the power Monday to zone medical marijuana dispensaries out of existence, a decision that upholds bans in about 200 cities but does little to solve Los Angeles’ years-long struggle to regulate hundreds of storefront pot outlets.
The unanimous decision provided clarity for cities and counties that want to rid themselves of the dispensaries, which sprouted up statewide after a 1996 voter-approved measure that sought to authorize medical marijuana but lacked specifics in how it would be regulated.
Now, attorneys on both sides of the issue say, many cities will be inclined to ban the pot outlets rather than allow a limited number and regulate them — a practice that has spawned expensive litigation up and down California.
“Only cities as liberal as Los Angeles will attempt to regulate,” said Los Angeles Special Assistant City Atty. Jane Usher. “Unless you are a city that enjoys being in the litigation business, I think bans will become the order of the day.”