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California Medical Marijuana Law Suffers From Conflicting Decisions
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On Wednesday, the state Court of Appeal in Santa Ana, unanimously ruled that a zoning law for sale of medical marijuana amounted to an illegal ban on dispensaries. However, this recent ruling conflicts an earlier ruling that allowed local governments to ban the sale of medical marijuana.

The question is whether local governments have the authority to ban the sale of medical marijuana within their jurisdictions by overriding state and federal laws. Patients suffering from chronic pain, for which medical marijuana is considered one of the best alternatives, can be denied if the cities win the war of prejudice.

While more than one hundred local governments in California have passed resolutions and regulations to ban sale of medical marijuana within their jurisdiction, their stand remains weak unless affirmed by the court.

  
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The state high court would review a ruling made this week that asserted that cities do not have the jurisdiction to ban the sale of medical marijuana from authorized dispensaries.

The pot boils over if one considers that another appellate court had ruled that the cities were barred from permitting regulated sales of medical marijuana in contravention of federal law.

Now, if an authority does not have the jurisdiction to permit something by itself, how can the same authority have jurisdiction to ban that thing suo motu?

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Wednesday’s ruling in the Lake Forest zoning case was the first judgment in California to hold that bans on dispensaries selling medical marijuana were illegal. However, the court also held that dispensaries may only sell marijuana grown on site. Now that would require dispensaries that sale medical marijuana, also to become marijuana growers, if they intend to continue to sell their goods.

At the same time, federal law criminalizes marijuana production and use.



While the court’s ruling moves to appeal, Lake Forest has effectively nullified the ruling even before superior courts have had a chance to decide the matter. Lake Forest directly asked the federal government for help, and federal agents shut down the 38 medical marijuana dispensaries including the one that had won the case at court.

That raises questions on whether the authorities of federal agents exceed or supersede that of the state Court of Appeals.

While medical marijuana is recognized as one of the best medicines for chronic nerve pain and pain from sclerosis of liver, and while according to reports of the Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, at least 116 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, the smoke over the sale and use of medical marijuana only grows thicker.



 

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