Puff Peace? O. C. Judge OKs Anaheim Pot Dispensary Ban

By Robyn Hagan Cain on August 26, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Californians approved medical marijuana in 1996, and considered legalizing pot for the general public in 2010, but some communities are hopeful that a California court decision will reign in medical marijuana dispensaries.

Last week, anti-drug activists won a challenge in Orange County Superior Court in Qualified Patients Association v. City of Anaheim. The plaintiff in the case, an Anaheim pot dispensary, questioned whether a state law enabling collective growers to sell pot through marijuana dispensaries preempts a city ban on the dispensaries.

Superior Court Judge David Chaffee ruled for Anaheim, finding that neither the 1996 Compassionate Use Act nor the 2003 Medical Marijuana Program Act stopped a city from regulating medical marijuana distribution, upheld Anaheim’s pot dispensary ban.

The case is now heading back to California’s Fourth Appellate District. While an appeal could tack another year onto the already four-year-old dispute, Anaheim plans to ask the Fourth Appellate District to expedite the case, reports The Los Angeles Times.

We think that the Fourth Appellate District will agree. When the appellate court initially heard demurrer and dismissal arguments in Qualified Patients Association last year, the court lamented the fact that the state law preemption issue was not ripe for review.

In its opinion on the procedural matters, the Fourth Appellate Court wrote, “As anxious as we, the parties, and amici curiae are to reach this important and interesting question of state preemption, this case in its present posture is not the occasion to do so.”

While we have no doubt that the Fourth Appellate District’s ruling this case will also be appealed, other cities and counties are anxious for appellate clarification on this issues. Americans for Safe Access claims that there are 161 cities and 17 counties that ban medical marijuana dispensaries; the outcome in Qualified Patients Association could affect other municipalities’ decisions to enact pot dispensary laws.

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