Pubdate: Thu, 05 Jul 2012
Source: Union, The (Grass Valley, CA)
Copyright: 2012 The Union
Author: Matthew Renda


There are too many legal contradictions to understand what 
ramifications will apply to Nevada County as a result of a recent 
court decision relating to medical marijuana dispensaries, county 
legal officials said.

A July 2 California 2nd District Court of Appeals decision, in the 
County of Los Angeles v. Alternative Medicinal Cannabis Collective, 
affirmed the legality of medical cannabis dispensaries under state 
law and overturned Los Angeles County's complete ban on dispensaries, 
according to multiple published reports.

Medical marijuana advocates are hailing the ruling as a "landmark 
decision," Patricia Smith, the Nevada County President of Americans 
for Safe Access, said in a Thursday news release.

"This is an unequivocal ruling for safe access," said Joe Elford, ASA 
Chief Counsel. "Because medical cannabis dispensaries are legal under 
state law, municipalities have no right to ban them."

However, the court ruling will not affect the Nevada County 2011 
Ordinance 2339 that banned dispensaries, according to Marcos Kropf, 
Nevada County assistant county counsel.

There are other court cases where judges have come to conflicting 
conclusions, Kropf said, essentially establishing case precedent for 
both sides of the issue.

"Eventually, the California Supreme Court is going to have to weigh 
in on the issue," Kropf said.

While lawyers representing Los Angeles County have not yet decided 
whether they will appeal their particular case to the California 
Supreme Court, there are cases related to the legality of 
dispensaries currently scheduled for review by the court.

In a document where the highest court in the state lists "issues 
pending before the California Supreme Court in civil cases," there 
are three cases listed pertaining to the issue - City of Riverside v. 
Inland Empire Patient's Health & Wellness Center, People v. G3 
Holistic and Pack v. Superior Court.

"These cases present issues concerning preemption, under federal or 
state law, of local ordinances regulating or banning the operation of 
medical marijuana dispensaries and related activities," according to 
the Supreme Court document.

Kropf said a decision in the cases is likely to come within the next year.

On May 8, the county passed a controversial medical marijuana 
nuisance ordinance that restricted the growth of marijuana according 
to property size and proximity to neighbors along with other factors.

Since, ASA filed for a temporary restraining order seeking to stop 
the implementation of the law. The order was denied by Nevada County 
Superior Court Judge Sean Dowling June 1.

ASA, led by Medical Marijuana Attorney Jeffrey Lake, has also filed 
for a preliminary injunction, which seeks to halt implementation of 
the ordinance before it can be determined whether the law will hold 
up to inevitable lawsuits.

Kropf said the hearing for the preliminary injunction will occur July 27.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom