Thursday, January 2, 2014
Hammock Upholds City’s Medical Marijuana Measure
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Randolph Hammock has rejected challenges to the medical marijuana measure adopted by City of Los Angeles voters last May.
Hammock Monday overruled demurrers by three dispensary operators whom the city is trying to put out of business. He said Proposition D does not violate their rights to due process or equal protection of the laws.
The ordinance, which 63 percent of city voters supported, bars dispensaries from operating if they opened up after the city declared a moratorium on new facilities in 2007; if they are within 600 feet of a park, a school, or a child-care facility; or if they violate other requirements. City Attorney Mike Feuer declared in October that the city would begin bringing legal actions against an estimated 850 illegal dispensaries.
Three of those targets—Trinity Holistic Caregivers and Nature’s Wonder Caregivers downtown, and God’s Gift Herb Center in the Vermont Knolls area—asked Hammock to dismiss the city’s suits on constitutional grounds.
The judge, however, cited City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Health and Wellness Center, Inc. (2013) 56 Cal.4th 72. The high court said cities may ban medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within municipal boundaries.
Justice Marvin Baxter, writing for a unanimous court, said that neither the 1996 initiative that allows the use of marijuana on a doctor’s written recommendation—known as Proposition 215 or the Compassionate Use Act—nor follow-up legislation enacted eight years later preempts local land use laws.
“If a municipality can completely ban any [dispensaries], why can’t it simply allow some limited number, and ban the rest?”, the judge asked rhetorically.
He agreed with the city that a Court of Appeal decision upholding the predecessor to Proposition D disposes of the defendants’ due process arguments. And he rejected the equal protection arguments on the ground that the limitation on the number of dispensaries serves a rational purpose by enabling the city to “adequately control and monitor a limited number of” collectives, “and still allow marijuana to be utilized under the parameters” of Proposition 215 and the Medical Marijuana Program Act.
The case is People v. Trinity Holistic Caregivers, 3CA08520.
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