Local Municipalities Working to Ban Medical Marijuana after California Law Enacted

When medical marijuana was first legalized in the state of California, it was left up to the towns, counties, and cities to decide whether dispensaries and delivery would be permitted. This was the case for nearly twenty years until the state passed legislation regulating the medical marijuana industry at the state level for the first time in our state’s history. This was done through the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown after the State Assembly and State Senate passed the legislation.

Colorado Lawmakers.jpgAs discussed in a recent news feature from the Napa Valley Register, one of the aspects of the recent act is that the state now has the authority to issue licenses for cultivation, distribution and dispensing of medical cannabis anywhere in the state. This would include areas that previously did not allow medical marijuana businesses within their respective jurisdictions. The one caveat is that these local municipalities can ban medical marijuana if they adopt an ordinance (local law) that expressively prohibits medical marijuana. American Canyon Community is one of the local municipalities that plans to enact such an ordinance to keep the medical marijuana industry out.

It is unfortunate that, despite the ever-increasing public support for medical marijuana and legalization of marijuana in general, some politicians still intend to fight against allowing patients to have easy access to much needed medicine. While it will still be legal for private citizens to use medical marijuana as long as they have a valid medical marijuana recommendation from a doctor, it will be increasingly hard for these sick patients to get the medicine if it is not sold in their local area. Many patients cannot afford to travel great distances and are not in any condition to so, regardless of cost, due to their medical conditions.

While American Canyon Community already had a prohibition on medical cannabis businesses on the books, which they enacted in 2009, under the new state law, this older prohibition may not be considered an express prohibition as required. If it is not an express prohibition, it would be considered a generic prohibition, and that would not satisfy the state law.

Technically, the new state medical marijuana regulations give each local jurisdiction until the end of the first quarter of 2016 to enact any planned legislation. If they fail to act in time, the state law will supersede any already existing generic prohibition, and licenses could be issued for businesses in that area. Once a license is issued, the local government would not be able to revoke the licenses, based upon the state law being supreme to a local ordinance when they conflict.

The particular jurisdiction featured in the article is not waiting until the deadline and has already gotten unanimous support for the city council to adopt the new law. This was only the first step in the process, but it did bring the matter to the floor of the legislative chamber, and it does not seem like any politician will be willing to stand up to for the rights of medical marijuana patients and stop the law from being adopted.

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

Additional Resources:

AmCan readying medical marijuana ban, December 3, 2015, Napa Valley Register, by Noel Brinkerhoff More Blog Entries:

Blue Ribbon Commission Report Offers Road Map to Legal Marijuana, July 31, 2015, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog