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News (Media Awareness Project) - US CA: Law Appears To Back Pot Dispensary Ban
Title:US CA: Law Appears To Back Pot Dispensary Ban
Published On:2012-01-25
Source:Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Fetched On:2012-01-30 06:00:50

AB 1300 Gives More Power to Local Authorities

A new state law intended to clarify local governments' role in
regulating medical cannabis dispensaries seems to support Redding's
and Shasta County's recent bans on the storefronts, local officials

But a lobbyist for local dispensaries, who differs from state and
nationwide advocacy groups worried that the law does just that,
believes the new law could permit Redding to withdraw its dispensary

Assembly Bill 1300, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in August and taking
effect this month, modifies California's Medical Marijuana Program to
permit cities, counties and other local governments to adopt
ordinances regulating the "location, operation or establishment of a
medical marijuana cooperative or collective," according to the bill.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, said he wrote AB 1300
to help local governments handle dispensaries that are breaking local
regulations and protect cities from lawsuits brought by medical
cannabis advocates who argue state laws are the only guidelines for

"If this claim were substantiated, communities would be virtually
powerless in deciding dispensary concentration, location, crime
mitigation, business licensure, taxation, and use permit conditions,"
Blumenfield wrote in an argument supporting the bill.

Redding City Attorney Rick Duvernay said the bill seems to support the
city's ability to pass ordinances regulating dispensaries, including
ordinances deeming the storefronts public nuisances.

"There is nothing in the bill or the history of the bill that would
suggest the author intended to preclude ordinances that ban," Duvernay
said. "In fact, it seems to be quite the opposite: AB 1300
contemplates local governments having the full authority to make the
choice whether to regulate or ban."

The City Council approved Redding's dispensary ban in November ban
through an urgency ordinance, drawing in-part on the then-forthcoming
enactment of AB 1300.

County supervisors in December also drew on the then-pending enactment
of the bill to support the county's ban on dispensaries, Shasta County
Counsel Rubin Cruse said.

"I certainly am of the opinion that the bill authorizes the county
Board of Supervisors to take the action they did," Cruse said.

Case law upholds bans as a form of regulation, Cruse

But Max Del Real, a lobbyist for the medical marijuana industry whose
clients include local dispensaries, said Redding can now legally
regulate dispensaries because of AB 1300.

"There's still an opportunity for success on both sides of the
aisles," Del Real said recently.

The city should recognize the dispensaries that were licensed and
allow them to continue operating, he said.

"Those are your partners," Del Real said. Those are the people who
went through the background check; those are the one who paid the fees."

Alec Henderson, who's representing five medical marijuana dispensaries
in a legal challenge to Redding's ban, said the bill does seem to
support the city's ability to regulate dispensaries.

"I know that my opponents tend to feel that it indicates better
grounds for banning dispensaries," he said.

AB 1300 riled medical cannabis advocates statewide in the months
before its approval. The California Cannabis Coalition, California
chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
and Americans for Safe Access called for the bill's defeat, claiming
it would uphold the ability of cities to ban dispensaries and deny
patients safe access to medical cannabis.

Redding and Shasta County also drew on a pair of recent appellate
court decisions upholding a municipality's ability to ban and striking
down permitting systems for dispensaries as conflicting with federal

Those decisions, which were published into state law, were recently
invalidated by the California Supreme Court as justices decided last
week to hear those and two other cases involving medical cannabis

Lower-court decisions are automatically de-published when the Supreme
Court hears a case unless justices decide otherwise, according to the
Office of the Clerk for the Supreme Court.

Henderson said if the Supreme Court does uphold the appellate court
ruling that invalidated permitting systems, that decision would likely
invalidate AB 1300.

Redding and Shasta County will likely wait out the Supreme Court's
decision before revisiting their bans, their legal counsels said.
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