Gordon Swanson/Shutterstock.com

The ruling came down to concerns over land use, not weed.

The California Supreme Court today ruled that local governments in the state have the right to prevent medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within their jurisdictions, clearing the way for new restrictions in a state known for relatively liberal medical marijuana regulations.

The 1996 "Compassionate Use Act" made medical marijuana legal in the state, and a 2003 bill created an ID program for medical marijuana patients and caregivers. As the Associated Press reports: "Of the 18 states that allow the medical use of marijuana, California is the only one where residents can obtain a doctor's recommendation to consume it for any ailment the physician sees fit as opposed to for only conditions such as AIDS and glaucoma. The state also is alone in not having a system for regulating growers and sellers."

But the court's decision today came down to concerns over land use, not medical marijuana. The court opinion [PDF] notes: "Nothing in the CUA or the MMP expressly or impliedly limits the inherent authority of a local jurisdiction, by its own ordinances, to regulate the use of its land, including the authority to provide that facilities for the distribution of medical marijuana will not be permitted to operate within its borders."

Basically, the court ruled the city of Riverside (the plaintiff in the case) has the right to prohibit dispensaries within its borders. The city's zoning laws ban dispensaries and "may be abated as a public nuisance," as the court opinion explains. The city argued the defendant in the case, Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, Inc., was in violation of city law.

Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, lists 193 cities in the state that have dispensary bans (last updated on March 1.) This ruling supports this right.

Medical marijuana patients could feel the effects of this ruling differently across the state. In theory, it's conceivable that a patient could have legal access to marijuana (according to state law) without practical access to a dispensary.

Top image: Gordon Swanson/Shutterstock.com

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a Metro PCS store in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    What D.C.’s Go-Go Showdown Reveals About Gentrification

    A neighborhood debate over music swiftly became something bigger, and louder: a cry for self-determination from a community that is struggling to be heard.

  2. The facade of a casino in Atlantic City.
    Photos

    Photographing the Trumpian Urbanism of Atlantic City

    Brian Rose’s new book uses the deeply troubled New Jersey city as a window into how a developer-turned-president operates.

  3. Tech workers sit around a table on their laptops in San Francisco, California
    Life

    America’s Tech Hubs Still Dominate, But Some Smaller Cities Are Rising

    Despite established urban tech hubs, some smaller cities are attracting high-tech jobs with lower living costs, unique talent pools, and geographic diversity.

  4. Equity

    The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed

    Manhattan’s new luxury mega-project was partially bankrolled by an investor visa program called EB-5, which was meant to help poverty-stricken areas.

  5. A photo of bicyclists along the Hudson River Park bike path in New York City
    Transportation

    Civic Crowdfunding Can Reduce the Risk of ‘Bikelash’

    This collective fundraising technique can help defuse anti-cyclist sentiment before it dooms protected bike lanes and other new infrastructure.