CA Supreme Court dismisses Pack v Long Beach, Allows Localities to Implement Regulatory Programs for Cannabis Dispensaries:
By Amanda Reiman, drugpolicy.org
The California Supreme Court weighed in on the issue of whether local regulations governing medical marijuana production and distribution are preempted by federal law as it threw out the case of Pack v. City of Long Beach. The Court’s Aug. 22, 2012 decision to dismiss this case means that localities can move forward enacting and implementing regulatory programs, just as many have been doing for years.
The Court found that since Long Beach had since repealed the ordinance that was the focus of the lower court’s decision, the legal validity of the ordinance was moot, so it dismissed the case.
The original Pack decision came from an appellate court in October 2011, which held that some medical marijuana dispensary regulations may be preempted by federal law. The ruling was appealed and the High Court last January vacated the appeals court decision for review. The lower court’s ruling in Pack has been a big concern to localities that enacted or wish to enact programs to regulate medical access within their communities. Some had also used Pack as a justification to ban dispensaries all together.
“The recent crackdown by the US Attorneys has left medical marijuana businesses looking to state and local officials to carve a path of regulation in order to preserve safe access to medical marijuana. This decision allows them to move forward,” said Tamar Todd, senior staff attorney for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).
“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. The question now is whether it is regulated or whether it operates on the margins.”
The Supreme Court is still poised to decide Riverside v Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Center, which will address the question as to whether localities have a right under state law to ban all dispensaries.