California: State Supreme Court Dismisses Appellate Court Decision Banning Cannabis Dispensaries

Sacramento, CA: The State Supreme Court last week dismissed an appellate court decision that found that the federal Controlled Substances Act preempts municipalities from allowing for the authorized production and distribution of medical cannabis.

Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court dismissed the case, (Pack et al. v. Long Beach), without review. In recent months, lawmakers from various California cities had stated that they could not move forward with local regulations to license medical cannabis providers because of the Pack ruling.

Commenting on the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss the case, Tamar Todd, senior staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance, said: "There is now no legal impediment for state and local government in California to move forward with responsible regulation for medical marijuana cultivation and distribution to patients."

A separate appellate court ruling, City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients’ Health and Wellness Center, Inc., remains before the Supreme Court. That decision determined that California state law does not preempt cities from prohibiting dispensaries by enacting restrictive zoning regulations.

A more recent state Court of Appeals ruling (Los Angeles v Alternative Cannabis Collective, et al.), issued in July, invalidated a Los Angeles county ban on cannabis collectives, finding that it conflicted with the state’s medical marijuana law.

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