• Governor Signs Bill Permitting Cities to Ban Marijuana Dispensaries
  • September 13, 2011 | Author: Jeffrey V. Dunn
  • Law Firm: Best Best & Krieger LLP - Irvine Office
  • Governor Brown signed legislation yesterday that amended California’s medical marijuana law to confirm that municipalities in the state retain broad power to regulate or ban marijuana dispensaries within their borders. The new law, AB 1300, amends the state’s Medical Marijuana Program (Health & Safety Code sections 11362.7-11362.83) and marks an important clarification for local governments embroiled in legal battles throughout the state over their rights to ban such dispensaries.

    The Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) exempts certain qualified patients and their caregivers from criminal prosecution for the possession, cultivation, transportation, processing, or use of limited amounts of marijuana. The final section of the MMP (Health & Safety Code section 11362.83) provided that a city or other local governing body could adopt and enforce laws that were “consistent with” the program. Marijuana dispensaries have contended that a local government’s outright ban of dispensaries is inconsistent with, and thus prohibited by the MMP.

    AB 1300 now clarifies that the MMP in no way limits a local government’s power to adopt and enforce its own laws that regulate or ban marijuana dispensaries. The amended section 11362.83 now provides: “Nothing in [the Medical Marijuana Program] shall prevent a city or other local governing body from adopting and enforcing any of the following: (a) Adopting local ordinances that regulate the location, operation, or establishment of a medical marijuana cooperative or collective. (b) The civil and criminal enforcement of local ordinances described in subdivision (a). (c) Enacting other laws consistent with this article.”