By Jacob Sullum
Last week a California appeals court upheld local bans on medical marijuana dispensaries in Riverside and Upland, concluding that they do not conflict with state law. The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that state laws permitting cultivation, possession, and nonprofit distribution of marijuana for medical purposes do not preclude cities and counties from barring storefront operations within their borders.
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Americans for Safe Access says 168 cities and 17 counties already ban dispensaries. The 4th District's ruling is likely to raise those numbers, especially in light of last month's decision overturning Long Beach's dispensary licensing system. In that case, the 2nd District Court of Appeal said municipalities can regulate dispensaries but cannot formally authorize them without violating federal law.
Local officials who are worried about conforming to that distinction now have a much simpler, court-endorsed option. "This really puts the green light out to all city attorneys that they can take action immediately to shut [dispensaries] down," anti-drug activist Paul Chabot told the Los Angeles Times. "The tide is turning against so-called medical marijuana in California."