Marijuana Law Backer Joins Legal Challenge Of Pot-Shop Bans

State Sen. Mark Leno, co-author of the state's medical marijuana clarification act (SB 420), has joined a court challenge that will help decide whether cities can ban medical marijuana dispensaries in a state that approves them.

The San Francisco Democrat filed a legal brief in Qualified Patients Association v. City of Anaheim arguing that the 2003 law's intention was not to allow cities to prohibit medical pot establishments.

" ... The clear intent of the [Medical Marijuana Program Act] in providing an exemption under the nuisance law was to preempt local ordinances and enforcement efforts based on nuisance law of any kind," Leno wrote. " ... To permit otherwise would undermine the expressly stated intent of the legislation."

It's not clear, however, how much weight SB 420 would have in the case, which is being adjudicated by California's Fourth Appellate District Court -- with a decision expected soon.

Last month the California Supreme Court overturned SB 420's limit on how much marijuana a doctor-approved patient could possess, stating that a legislative clarification of California's 1996 medical marijuana initiative -- which was passed by voters -- was not legal:

" ... The legislature is powerless to act on its own to amend an initiative statute. Any change in this authority must come in the form of a constitutional revision."

Ironically, the group Americans for Safe Access, which has also filed a brief in the Anaheim case, lauded that decision, stating "the California Supreme Court did the right thing."

ASA believes that a victory in the Anaheim case could overturn bands on medical marijuana dispensaries in 120 California cities.


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