Pro-Pot Group Says Court Decision Means California Cities Can't Ban Pot Shops

After a California court of appeal rejected the city of Anaheim's argument that marijuana's federal outlaw status allowed the municipality to ban medical pot dispensaries, a pro-cannabis group is urging all cities in California that ban pot shops to change course.

"It's long past time for local officials to implement California law and embrace the need for safe access to medical marijuana," Don Morgan, associate director of Americans for Safe Access, states. "Patients should not have to be held hostage by hostile jurisdictions."

The group argues that the the Fourth District Court of Appeal's decision earlier this month in the Qualified Patients Association v. City of Anaheim case sets somewhat of a precedent, even if the case has not been decided (it was sent back to Superior Court in Orange County for more deliberation).

Appeals court Judge Richard Aronson wrote, "Just as the federal government may not commandeer state officials for federal purposes, a city may not stand in for the federal government and rely on purported federal preemption to implement federal legislative policy that differs from corresponding, express state legislation concerning medical marijuana."

Joe Elford, ASA's chief counsel, argues that the decision "makes clear that regulation of dispensaries, rather than an outright ban, is consistent with State law and is not preempted by federal law."

In letters, the group has asked 134 cities and 9 counties "to reconsider [their] ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in light of the recently published decision."

Interestingly, the group holds up Los Angeles, which has had years of wrangling over how to regulate pot shops, of an example of how to do it the right way -- legalize pot shops, but with rules. In L.A.'s case, however, things remain chaotic:

After outlawing all but 41 pot shops out of nearly 600 in the city, authorities are backing off on enforcement against those that remain open as issues over the legality of its ordinance play out in court his month.


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