Pubdate: Sat, 05 Nov 2011
Source: Willits News (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Willits News
Author: Linda Williams
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Last month the California Second Appellate District threw out the 
city of Long Beach ordinance regulating medical marijuana 
dispensaries. If allowed to stand this ruling could disallow the 
Mendocino County zip tie program.

The October 4 ruling determined the City of Long Beach ordinance 
regulating medical marijuana dispensaries exceeded the intent of the 
state's compassionate use act to protect medical users from state and 
local prosecution. The basis for the ruling concluded since Long 
Beach imposed fees and issued permits for dispensaries to operate it 
had gone "beyond decriminalization into authorization." This puts the 
ordinance into violation of federal law by obstructing federal 
enforcement efforts. The court stated "the CUA simply decriminalizes 
(under state law) the possession and cultivation of medical 
marijuana; it does not attempt to authorize the possession and 
cultivation of the drug."

Whether this will actually affect the Mendocino County medical 
marijuana cultivation ordinance will depend upon whether the ruling 
remains published and if the California Supreme Court decides to 
review it. The ruling was slated to become law within 30 days of the 
October 4 publication but a challenge was filed October 13 requesting 
it be "depublished." In addition, because this ruling appears to be 
in conflict with prior appeals court opinions, it seems likely an 
appeal will be made for the California Supreme Court to help clarify 
the issue. If the higher court chooses to review the case, no action 
will be required by other jurisdictions potentially affected by the 
ruling, including Mendocino County, until after the Supreme Court rules.

Following the Long Beach ruling, coupled with the intensified push by 
federal officials threatening local officials with criminal 
prosecution if they either pass or refuse to repeal all ordinances 
allowing medical marijuana facilities, a growing number of cities 
have begun repealing such ordinances.

According to Mendocino County Counsel Jeanine Nadel, the county has 
yet to receive any letter from federal agencies challenging the 
county's medical marijuana ordinance. She has recommended a 
wait-and-see approach to the Board of Supervisors on existing 
ordinances while the Long Beach ruling is being assessed for either 
depublishing or Supreme Court review. She has also recommended 
tabling work on any dispensary ordinance until the issue has been clarified.
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