In the recent case of City of Riverside v Inland Empire Patients Health & Wellness Center, Inc., the California Supreme Court Ruled that cities have the right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries through ordinances and zoning laws. The Supremes rejected the argument that the Compassionate Use Act (CUA) and the Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) pre-empted Riverside’s ordinance because of the city’s inherent police power to decide how to use its own land pursuant to the California Constitution. The Court further noted and that nothing in the CSA or MMP expressly provided for medical marijuana dispensaries.
This is not good short term new for medical marijuana dispensaries. However, there is legislation already being introduced in the California Congress to expressly authorize such facilities.
Also, this case will not affect the right of people with proper paperwork to use and cultivate medical marijuana in California. Nor can you be punished criminally for running a marijuana dispensary by the State. It is now strictly a civil issue. However, it is still illegal Federally, and this should weigh into anyone’s analysis on whether to own or operate a dispensary.
So, if you own or operate a medical marijuana dispensary, sooner or later you may get a notice on the door threatening you with a lawsuit. Contract your lawyer to find out what the zoning law says in order to pursue your options.