Posted February 6th, 2013
February 5 - The California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Riverside vs. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, a case determining whether or not Riverside may ban medical marijuana dispensaries within its borders.
The justices, appearing at a special session at the hundredth anniversary of the UCSF law school, were equally hard on attorneys on both sides of the case.
“The Legislature knows how to say, ‘Thou shalt not ban dispensaries,’ ” Justice Ming W. Chin told IEPHWC's attorney J. David Nick. Answered Nick, “If you were to allow bans, city by city, county by county, that is the opposite of what the Legislature was trying to accomplish.”
In questioning Riverside's attorney Jeffrey V. Dunn (pictured at podium), one of the justices pointed out that if all counties in California banned dispensaries, no one in California could visit a dispensary. Words like "consistent" and "establishment" weighed for their full meaning, and the letter as well as the stated purpose of the law was discussed.
Nick made it clear that locals have a great deal of authority over zoning of dispensaries, but that the Court has never ruled that locals may make illegal anything legal under state law (except perhaps in a single cited case). Much was made of the fact that state law merely offers limited immunity from state law only.
Dunn is a partner at Best, Best and Krieger, an Irvine-based law firm that has promulgated anti-dispensary ordinances throughout California and according to their website, has now been paid to defend those ordinances in 30 municipalities. Dunn assisted in the drafting of a bill last year giving cities more power to regulate dispensaries. A BB&K attorney recently gave a presentation at the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers meeting.
A ruling is expected within 90 days.
This year is also the 100th anniversary of marijuana prohibition in California.