California State Court Unanimously Authorizes Local Governments Power to Ban Marijuana Dispensaries (SB 420 & Prop 215)

Rabin Nabizadeh
May 6, 2013

Beginning May 6th 2013, the California state court has unanimously ruled that cities and counties can select to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in their areas if they choose to.  This decision results from several other attempts in both Bakersfield and Riverside to use zoning regulations to fight the 17-year-old California law that allows the sale of marijuana for medical purposes (SB 420 & Prop 215).

What counts as medical marijuana?  All portions of the plant and related products, such as buds, stalks, leaves, resin and fibers all count as marijuana according to SB420.  Remember, included in this category are any related marijuana products, such as edibles, hash, tinctures, waxes and hashish oils.  Yet, in California, only buds count for patients, not leaves or stalks.  In a normal grow cycle of about 100 days, only 7-10% of the cut, fresh plant becomes ‘bud’ and is included in the determination of weight.  Ultimately, a doctor’s recommendation is what determines how much a patient can grow or possess, according to that patient’s diagnosis or need.

Now, it seems that legal dispensaries might be in jeopardy.  If city and state governments are now given control over whether or not dispensaries can operate, then does this signal a change in attitudes toward medical marijuana that are different than years ago?  Whatever the reason may be, it remains to be seen whether Bakersfield and others will follow in the footsteps of Riverside and ban dispensaries through the use of zoning laws.

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