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Court to review if cities and counties may ban medical pot stores

The California Supreme Court agrees to assess rulings by lower courts on how much oversight local governments may exert on medical marijuana operations. A ruling is probably at least a year or two away.

January 20, 2012|By Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from San Francisco — The California Supreme Court has decided to review whether cities and counties may ban medical marijuana stores.

Meeting in closed session, the court Wednesday agreed to assess rulings by lower courts on how much oversight local governments may exert on medical marijuana operations. A ruling is probably at least a year or two away.

The court's decision to review the appeals court decisions means they cannot be enforced pending a ruling by the state high court.

Joe Elford, chief counsel of Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, said the lower court decisions had been "very problematic for patients."

"We're very pleased that local governments will now be unable to use appellate court decisions to deny patients access to medical marijuana in their own communities," Elford said.

One of the rulings said some dispensary regulations may be preempted by federal law, and another said cities could legally ban marijuana distribution altogether, he said.

Proposition 215, passed by voters in 1996, legalized use of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation, but the federal government continues to criminalize pot.

maura.dolan@latimes.com

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