Pack v. Long Beach Dismissed; Arguments Against Local Regulation Weakened

It’s been a common refrain from municipalities and local governments throughout the state: greenleaves.jpg

“We can’t offer regulation because, according to Pack v. Long Beach, to do so would be against the law, as it would condone drug trafficking, which is illegal under federal law,” they would say.

However, Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know this is no longer a valid argument, as the California Supreme Court has dismissed the appellate court’s decision, making it null and void.

This is likely to have a major impact regarding the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries as we move forward in this state.

Here’s why:

When California voters first approved the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes back in 1996, they became the first in the nation to do so. This meant there was no blueprint, no guideline for how such a transition should be made. That meant that any regulation of how marijuana was to be sold and used was left to local governments.

This is key because, considering that marijuana of any kind is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, it was critical that the state at least appear to have a handle on sales.

Some municipalities did quite well. There are a number in the so-called “Emerald Triangle” that were lauded for the way they were able to keep a tight leash on the industry, and yet still provide quality product to patients and even boost tax revenues.

Others, like Los Angeles, were all over the place – first setting up regulations, then setting up a moratorium, then not enforcing it and then passing a ban and then rescinding the ban at the behest of voters who again want to take matters into their own hands.

And yet there were others that issued outright bans, saying that any other form of regulation, per Pack v. Long Beach, was against the law.

But now that the state supreme court has dismissed Pack v. Long Beach, the decision has been de-published. What this means is that attorneys aren’t able to cite it as valid law, and cities can’t rely on it in their reasoning for enacting bans on lawful dispensaries and neither can they say that local regulation of these facilities has legally been determined to be a violation of federal law.

What this means is that in those municipalities where bans are currently established, based on Pack v. Long Beach, may now be legally challenged, with a good chance of success.

Some other recent and important decisions include:

  • The Second District Court of Appeal in California’s ruling on the County of Los Angeles v. Alternative Medicinal Cannabis Collective, which ruled that such bans are unconstitutional and that medical marijuana dispensaries do have the legal right to operate under state law;
  • The California Supreme Court’s affirmation of People v. Colvin, which essentially held that qualified patients can legally operate a storefront dispensary.


The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
CA Supreme Court Dismisses ‘Pack’ Case; Petitioners Say City Should Reinstate Original Medpot Ordinance, Aug. 22, 2012, By Greggory Moore, Long Beach Post
More Blog Entries:
The Politics of Pot in Los Angeles, Aug. 1, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog