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Marijuana Dispensary Ruling in Riverside Could Affirm Right of California Cities to Outlaw Pot Shops

Updated at the bottom: The court said cities can ban dispensaries. First posted at 12:37 p.m. on Nov. 1.

Medical marijuana advocates are steaming mad over a court ruling ... that hasn't even happened yet.

Tomorrow California's Fourth District Court of Appeals (Division 2 in Riverside) will likely affirm its earlier decision stating that the city of Riverside has the right to ban dispensaries.

The Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project stated that the tomorrow's expected affirmation will help to turn pot distribution "over to the Mexican Mafia - the largest distributor of illicit marijuana in California."

Of course Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed a state law that also confirms cities can outlaw pot dispensaries on their own, so this seems like a moot if not Quixotic battle.

Nonetheless, Lanny Swerdlow of the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project says fellow cannabis shop supporters will hold a noontime rally outside court tomorrow (3389 Twelfth St., Riverside).

This particular case tests the right of Swerdlow's Inland Empire Center dispensary to dispense weed.

He argues that his operation had a novel and legal distribution system modeled after a farmer's market -- where growers and buyers could come together.

(If true, this would actually more closely mirror the intentions of California's medical marijuana laws, which legalized the sharing of pot among the seriously ill -- on a nonprofit basis).

Swerdlow contends that the court will set a bad precedent tomorrow:

Most patients will not make the long drive and if they cannot grow their own or join a small collective (most will not be able to), they will obtain their marijuana the old fashioned way - they will buy it from criminals.

[Update]: The Fourth District Court of Appeal yesterday ruled that, yes, cities can essentially an dispensaries. The Metropolitan News-Enterprise:

While "lawful" dispensaries are protected, the justice reasoned, the local government remains free to declare dispensaries unlawful in part or all of the city.

There it is.

[@dennisjromero/djromero@laweekly.com]


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