App Challenges L.A.'s Marijuana Delivery Ban
Medical marijuana delivery is essentially outlawed in the city of L.A. unless it's done by a licensed, primary healthcare professional such as a home nurse, according to the L.A. City Attorney's Office.
"There is no lawful delivery service under Proposition D," City Attorney Mike Feuer has said.
That hasn't stopped apps such as Nestdrop, SpeedWeed, Eaze and others from moving in on America's largest marijuana market and connecting dispensaries, patients and delivery drivers.
Some have said the L.A. regulation, part of voter-approved Proposition D in 2013, presents a gray area when it comes to such delivery technology. This week the attorney for Nestdrop announced that the app is appealing a Superior Court judge's preliminary injunction that shut down its facilitation of delivery service in the city of L.A.
"This app is a flagrant attempt to circumvent the will of the voters who passed Proposition D," Feuer said in December.
The app's filing with California's Second District Court of Appeal argues, "The city attorney relies on a hypertechnical, non-obvious reading of Proposition D."
"Nestdrop has argued that the city attorney’s reading of Proposition D is incorrect and does not represent what the voters of Los Angeles actually intended," the brief, filed by attorney Michael D. Grahn on behalf of Nestdrop, says. "Nestdrop does not actually operate a dispensary; rather the Nestdrop app merely provides a medium for medical marijuana patients and dispensaries to conduct transactions — no different from a phone or computer, other than being specifically tailored for medical marijuana delivery."
The filing argues that the city attorney's interpretation wrongly limits a dispensary's operations to the confines of its property. "No business can effectively operate in such an isolated manner," the brief says.
It also argues that if the city's interpretation means that no vehicles can be used to deliver weed, City Hall is interfering with the state's right to legislate vehicle code regulations.
What's more, it says, such a prohibition on vehicles delivering pot interferes with legal pot business in other cities such as West Hollywood, which likely rely on travel through Los Angeles for supplies.
If that part of Proposition D is invalid, the brief argues, then the whole thing is.
Even though recent medical marijuana regulations, the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), allow cities to ban delivery, the brief argues that L.A. never really, properly, "explicitly" banned delivery.
"Proposition D does not 'explicitly prohibit' medical marijuana delivery as required under MMRSA," the filing says. "Moreover, MMRSA was merely a 'twinkle in the Legislature’s eye' when the Los Angeles voters enacted Proposition D. In other words, at the time Proposition D passed, the voters did not have the legal authority to ban medical marijuana delivery under the Vehicle Code."
If all this sounds a bit convoluted to you, we agree. Sure, you probably would vote for legal pot delivery if given another chance. Us too. But this challenge feels like it was written by the smart prankster at the back of the class. We'll see if the judge is impressed.
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