State Court to Hear City's Appeal On Marijuana Ruling

California Supreme Court will decide whether cities can legally use zoning codes to prohibit marijuana dispensaries as Lake Forest has done.

A ruling in favor of a is on hold after the California Supreme Court on Wednesday granted a petition from the city to review the decision.

The state Supreme Court agreed to hear a case about whether cities can use their zoning codes to prohibit dispensaries as Lake Forest has done, according to City News Service.

The decision puts on hold the , issued in February, until the state's highest court rules.

In the meantime, the Lake Forest City Attorney's office plans to resume prosecuting the dispensaries under the city's zoning code, according to a statement released this afternoon.

"We are very pleased that the California Supreme Court agreed with the City of Lake Forest and will be providing much needed guidance in this ever-changing area of law. We are hopeful the Supreme Court will hear the applicable cases in early 2013,” said Jeffrey V. Dunn, the attorney representing Lake Forest.

The legal saga has been ping-ponging through the courts since October 2009 when Evergreen Holistic sued the city for shuttering dispensaries that it said were a nuisance.

In May 2010, Orange County Superior Court Judge David Chaffee issued a preliminary injunction intended to shut down 11 Lake Forest dispensaries. A stay on the injunction was granted while the appellate court reviewed Chaffee's ruling. In February, a panel of appellate court justices backed the collective.

City officials may use their nuisance ordinance to regulate the dispensaries and collectives, but can't just declare them a nuisance and order their closure, the panel decided.

This latest twist—the entrance of the California Supreme Court in the back-and-forth—releases the City Attorney's office from a temporary hiatus on its prosecution of the dispensaries, which it alleges are operating illegally.

“We have worked hard to rid the community of illegal marijuana stores,” City Manager Bob Dunek said in a statement. “The City has consistently viewed this matter as an issue of local public safety and the City’s right to enforce its zoning laws on behalf of the people of Lake Forest.”

According to the statement on the court's decision, the city has taken no position relative to the use of marijuana for personal medical use by seriously ill individuals where the medical use is deemed appropriate by a physician. 

Frank Mockery May 18, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Seventeen states & counting have approved the use of medical marijuana fully aware of the fact that this conflicts with federal law. The majority of Americans support medical use & disapprove of federal interference where patients & dispensaries adhere to state guidelines. While there are many reasons for the federal government to obstruct the will of the people concerning this issue of public health they're all politically motivated. Physicians overwhelmingly support medical use yet our government continuously blocks medical research by denying access to the government controlled source of marijuana. Municipalities & state courts don't enforce federal law & cities can't be allowed to determine which state laws to ignore. A suit by cannabis patients is being heard in U.S. District Court in SoCal now which will potentially render federal opposition moot. They contend that under the "equal protection clause" of our Constitution that by allowing Washington D.C. voters to decide to approve medical marijuana this privelege must be extended to all voters. Hence since Congress allowed them to vote for it even though it's prohibited by federal law they've given their tacit approval for state voters to do the same thing. Local officials were elected to carry out the wishes of their constituents,not to find excuses to impose their prejudicial personal feelings on their communities.This issue has been before Congress for years, for now we'll take our chances in state & federal court.
Bong Sativa May 18, 2012 at 10:05 PM
There are many cities in California that have welcomed cannabis dispensaries with no detrimental impact to their community. Reasonable local regulation enables patients to have the legal access they're guaranteed by state law. Appealing to federal authorities when your legal actions to thwart state law are rejected in state courts is a desperate act by right-wing moral crusaders unwilling to concede or admit defeat. The only thing that stands between cannabis patients & their ability to receive their medication at a local dispensary is the hareful obstinance of the Lake Forest City Council. How much more money will be wasted in this hare-brained scheme to turn back time & impede the inevitable ? When the city loses & they will,the City Attorney who has offered the specious legal opinions supporting the cities position in this matter should be run out of town along with the City Council !
Summer Hemphill May 19, 2012 at 06:29 AM
Come out of the closet you Republican marijuana smokers,we know you're out there somewhere (but maybe not as far out as we are) !!!!
Summer Hemphill May 30, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Please read "A Judge's Plea for Pot" an Op-Ed in the May 16th N.Y. Times. This moving & compelling piece written by N.Y. Supreme Court Justice Gustin L. Reichbach should be required reading for everyone irregardless of their personal feelings regarding this important health issue. His courage & eloquence should be applauded !
Summer Hemphill July 23, 2012 at 04:35 PM
The Second Appellate Court's ruling this month that all local bans are "pre-empted" by state law is now California law ! Those looking to the California Supreme Court for relief will be bitterly disappointed if their inaction in the People v Colvin case is any indication. Refusing to review the case & letting Appellate Court ruling stand that a) one doesn't need to perform labor to belong to a medical marijuana collective b) that you are allowed to grow & transport marijuana commensurate with the needs of their patients & c) that concentrated marijuana (kief,hash,hash oil,etc.) are legal for patients under present state law. This certainly doesn't bode well for the obstructionists as federal law is a matter for the federal courts & the state courts will only rule on issues of state law.The federal government is on the verge of knuckling under to the overwhelming public support for medical marijuana leaving those opposed "high" & dry ! I'll be there for the first ribbon cutting ceremony when the state law is enforced,but I doubt any City Council members will have the chutzpah to show their faces ! Where do the taxpayer's go to recoup the million dollars Lake Forest has squandered in their efforts to obstruct state law by obstructing "safe & legal access" to their constituents ? It's not just a violation of their oath of office to uphold state law,they've also committed a crime & may be held personally responsible for the cities financial losses due to their criminal activity !


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