The State Supreme Court has decided that Proposition 215 does not prohibit cities and counties from banning marijuana storefronts from operating within their boundaries, upholding a zoning issue from the City of Riverside that shutdown the City’s pot shops. The ruling opens the door for other cities and counties to pass similar bans.
Americans for Safe Access, a group which works to ensure the regulated and safe access to medicinal marijuana, had previously argued that bans such as Riverside’s run contrary to the State’s open access laws. Several courts have sided with them, others have ruled in favor of cities. But now that the state’s highest court has ruled that limitations can be placed on access, the substance of Prop 215 may be altered substantially.
“The California Constitution recognizes the authority of cities and counties to make and enforce, within their borders, “all local, police, sanitary, and other ordinances and regulations not in conflict with general laws,” reads the opinion published today. “(Cal. Const., art. XI, § 7.) This inherent local police power includes broad authority to determine, for purposes of the public health, safety, and welfare, the appropriate uses of land within a local jurisdiction’s borders, and preemption by state law is not lightly presumed.”
The justices then went on to explain that the Compassionate Use Act prohibits arrest for the legitimate use of medicinal marijuana, but does not prohibit regulation or limitation by local governments.
“Nothing in the CUA or the MMP expressly or impliedly limits the inherent authority of a local jurisdiction, by its own ordinances, to regulate the use of its land, including the authority to provide that facilities for the distribution of medical marijuana will not be permitted to operate within its borders.”
The MPP – or Medical Marijuana Program – does address marijuana collectives on a limited basis, but also does not prescribe limitations to local government authority – except for two specifically enumerated protections. The first applies to the creation of medical marijuana identification cards, the other prohibits local authorities from refusing those cards as proof against arrests.
“No provision of the MMP explicitly guarantees the availability of locations where such activities may occur, restricts the broad authority traditionally possessed by local jurisdictions to regulate zoning and land use planning within their borders, or requires local zoning and licensing laws to accommodate the cooperative or collective cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana.