The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Monday, May 6, that cities are allowed to determine whether or not they can regulate or restrict medicinal marijuana dispensaries within the city limits.
The court ruled that Proposition 215, known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, didn’t require cities to consent to having the marijuana dispensaries in their jurisdiction.
Locally, Oakdale, Riverbank, Modesto, Ceres and Turlock have dispensary bans in place.
In its ruling the court stated, “nothing in the (laws governing medicinal marijuana) expressly or impliedly limits the inherent authority of a local jurisdiction, by its own ordinances, to regulate the use of its land, including the authority to provide that facilities for the distribution of medical marijuana will not be permitted to operate within its borders.”
The ruling supports a 2008 Oakdale City Council decision to ban the businesses in the city.
At the time of the 2008 council resolution, Oakdale hadn’t received any applications for dispensary business licenses, but moved forward with the ban to prevent what then-Police Chief Marty West described as “the criminal element that comes with them.”
Historically, the objective of many marijuana legalization advocates has been to sway the general public that marijuana is a harmless plant and has medicinal benefits. Many, however, believe that so called “medical” marijuana is grossly abused, and store front dispensaries are nothing more than legitimized drug dealing operations.
In 2007, Addison DeMoura was arrested by the Oakdale Police Department in cooperation with the Stanislaus County Drug Enforcement Agency after a two-month investigation and search warrant at the Oakdale Natural Choice Collective, a medicinal dispensary on East F Street. The arrest also included serving a search warrant at DeMoura’s home on Grand Oak Way.
In October 2009, Superior Court Judge Nancy Ashley dismissed the felony drug charges against DeMoura and his wife Jessica, pleasing legalized medicinal marijuana proponents. The judge said officers left out “very important facts” when writing the warrant to search the establishment.
Last year, Stanislaus County Drug Task Force agents arrested Delbert Montgomery and Brian Eldridge at a “posted legalized medicinal marijuana grow operation” at a different East F Street location after police responded to a call of gunshots on the property.
When officers arrived, they spotted two individuals fleeing into an extended garage on the property. The officers contacted the subjects and located two rifles and a handgun near the entrance of the garage.
California’s Compassionate Use Act allows designated individuals and their caregivers to use, possess, and cultivate cannabis through collectives without the jeopardy of criminal prosecution under state law.
Marijuana is still illegal under federal laws.