Calif. Supreme Court: Cities Can Ban Pot Dispensaries

More than 200 localities allowed to keep bans in place

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 7, 2013 12:04 AM CDT

(Newser) – In a major setback for pro-marijuana activists in the first state to legalize the drug for medical use, California's Supreme Court has ruled that cities and towns can legally ban pot dispensaries. In its 7-0 decision, the court sided with more than 200 local governments in the state that ban dispensaries within their borders, saying the bans fall under local governments' authority to regulate the use of land, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Advocates complain that the local bans have resulted in a patchwork of policies that leave many patients who need it most without access to the drug. "It’s a very big hardship for patients who live where they don’t have a dispensary," a Marijuana Policy Project director tells the New York Daily News. "It’s more dangerous to send seriously ill patients to drug dealers to obtain the marijuana they need to treat their illnesses." Activists plan to push for a statewide policy ensuring access to medical marijuana—and a bill legalizing it for recreational purposes.

Medical marijuana demonstrators hold up signs outside of the Federal Courthouse in Sacramento, Calif. yesterday.
Medical marijuana demonstrators hold up signs outside of the Federal Courthouse in Sacramento, Calif. yesterday.   (AP Photo/Steve Yeater)
Budista Angela Nagel assists a client at the Starbudz medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles.
"Budista" Angela Nagel assists a client at the Starbudz medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, file)
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