Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in L.A. See Ray of Hope in Face of Ban: California Supreme Court Could Throw a Lifeline

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Thu, Jan 19, 2012 at 12:26 PM

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We feel a little sorry for all those pot shop employees sweating out the future of their paychecks, but the battle over marijuana dispensaries in Southern California is turning out to be epic, with the kind of last-minute touchdowns we saw in last weekend's 49ers-Saints game.

It has us on the edge of our seats.

Score one for the pro-cannabis nation: The California Supreme Court will take up the very state court ruling that has jeopardized cannabis stores in this pot shop capital of the nation.

The court is going to review Pack v. City of Long Beach, which essentially threw out the way cities like Long Beach and L.A. planned to regulate dispensaries.

L.A.'s response to that was to propose doing away with pot shops all together. The rationale was that, after trying to reign them in with a lottery system that would whittle shops down to about 100, and with rules about how they could operate via permit, the court said you can't do it that way, so why even bother?

While some marijuana-rights activists claimed there were ways around the ruling, L.A. is moving forward with an outright ban.

Not so fast?

The state Surpreme Court will also review City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient's Health and Wellness Ctr., Inc., which held that cities could indeed ban dispensaries outright.

The two rulings have been vacated while the big dogs take a look. That means their conclusions and ramifications are not in effect.

The group Americans for Safe Access is psyched by the review and the possibility that these two decisions could be overturned. Joe Elford, ASA's legal honcho:

These cases were very problematic for patients and their ability to safely and legally access a medication that works for them. We're very pleased that local governments will now be unable to use appellate court decisions to deny patients access to medical marijuana in their own communities.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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