Pubdate: Thu, 17 Sep 2015
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2015 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Eric Vodden


Likely Wouldn't Be Heard Before Winter

A pro-medical marijuana group and seven individuals challenging Yuba 
County's new cannabis cultivation ordinance will get their day in 
court following a judge's ruling.

Yuba County Superior Court Judge Benjamin Wirtshafter issued a ruling 
last month that mostly favored Yuba Patients Coalition and others 
filing a lawsuit against the county. It, in effect, rejected the 
county's bid to dismiss the suit outright and set the stage for a 
future hearing on the merits of the case.

A status conference on the suit is scheduled for Sept. 28, but a date 
has not yet been set for a full court hearing.

Local attorney Charnel James, representing Yuba Patients Coalition 
and the individuals, called the ruling a "victory" for those opposed 
to the ordinance.

"It allows us to establish the record," James said Monday. "We get to 
allow testimony on the record. We get to put in the public record all 
the hearings that were held before the Board of Supervisors."

James said the matter likely won't be heard in court before November 
or December. It also gives those filing the suit 30 days to file 
amended claims it admits are "insufficiently pled."

The ruling is the latest development in the debate over a move last 
spring by Yuba County supervisors to tighten up its ordinance on 
medical marijuana cultivation.

In addition to banning outdoor plants, the more restrictive 
regulations limit indoor plants to a dozen in a qualified accessory 
structure. The ordinance also requires growers to register and pay an 
annual fee to the county.

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the ordinance and an 
urgency designation that eliminated the usual 30-day waiting period 
to take effect. It also maintains the ordinance is vague and that it 
discriminates against those who can't afford to comply with the 
requirements for accessory structures.

Wirtshafter's ruling came after an Aug. 13 court hearing to consider 
the county's challenge to the suit. It ruled in favor of the county 
in the constitutionality argument that local jurisdictions have 
control over medical marijuana growing restrictions.

But the ruling otherwise rejected the county's move to dismiss the 
action. It notes that "much of the defendants' (county) challenges 
address the merits of the underlying dispute, which is beyond the 
scope of a demurrer."

Wirtshafter's ruling also notes that "both parties have filed briefs 
well in excess of the page limits ..." and advises both sides to 
"comply with the California Rules of Court in future filings."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom