Thursday, September 24, 2009
Anaheim Marijuana Lawsuit News
City's medical marijuana ban to come before appeals court
The court will hear arguments Wednesday on whether it should revive a
lawsuit that challenged Anaheim ordinance.
By RACHANEE SRISAVASDI and SALVADOR HERNANDEZ
The Orange County Register
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
SANTA ANA – Do cities have the right to ban medical marijuana
The answer may hinge on a lawsuit being heard Wednesday before
California's 4th District Court of Appeal. A group of medical marijuana
patients – called the Qualified Patients Association – are
appealing an Orange County Superior Court judge's dismissal of their
lawsuit that challenged an Anaheim ordinance that forbids such outlets
and makes operators subject to criminal prosecution.
The group is asking the appeals court to revive their lawsuit and will
argue the case at a 1:30 p.m. hearing.
The case could have far-reaching consequences for cities statewide,
including some in Orange County, that have looked to the courts to keep
marijuana dispensaries outside their city limits.
Anaheim unanimously approved the ordinance in July 2007.
"Concerned about drug-related crime and the use of marijuana without
medical need, the city of Anaheim exercised its broad constitutional
police powers … to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries within
the city,'' wrote Assistant City Attorney Moses Johnson in a brief in
The city was sued in Orange County Superior Court over the ordinance,
but a judge in February 2008 dismissed the lawsuit.
The patients now are appealing the dismissal, arguing that the ordinance
"frustrates the purpose and intent of the Compassionate Use Act … by
restricting and limiting availability and distribution of medical
marijuana to qualified patients,'' the group's lawyer, Anthony Curiale,
wrote in a brief.
The California Compassionate Use Act, also known as Proposition 215,
which was approved by voters in 1996, allows for the use of marijuana
for medicinal purposes.
Patients can legally use marijuana with permission from doctors under
that law. However, federal law still forbids marijuana possession in
most cases, which officials and lawyers say creates conflicts.
Several Orange County cities have since adopted ordinances that ban
medical marijuana dispensaries, including Huntington Beach, Laguna
Beach, Laguna Niguel, Garden Grove, Seal Beach, Lake Forest, Aliso
Viejo, Laguna Hills and Orange. The only city in Orange County that has
approved dispensaries is Laguna Woods.
More than three dozen cities and several statewide law enforcement
groups have filed briefs in support of Anaheim's ordinance, including
Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Newport Beach, Orange,
Placentia, Tustin and Westminster, according to Americans for Safe
Access, a national medical marijuana advocacy organization, which also
has filed a brief in the case.
Other Orange County cities are pursuing separate litigation.
Lake Forest decided to file lawsuits this month against approximately 10
medical marijuana dispensaries, as well as property owners who leased
commercial space to them, in an effort to stamp out the businesses. The
city had already adopted an ordinance prohibiting businesses that do not
adhere to state and federal law, in essence prohibiting the dispensaries
within city limits.
Several collectives had already been established in the city and several
more sprung up despite the ordinance.
Contact the writer: 714-834-3773 or rsrisavasdi@ ocregister. com
http://www.ocregist er.com/articles/ marijuana- city-medical- 2577236-orange\