California Supreme Court to Decide Whether Cities May Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

January 2012

The California Supreme Court will decide whether cities throughout the State may ban medical marijuana dispensaries. The high court granted review on January 18 in two cases raising the question of whether the "Compassionate Use Act," adopted as Proposition 215 in 1996, or the "Medical Marijuana Program," adopted in 2003, preempts the power of cities to prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries through their zoning or business license ordinances. Richards, Watson & Gershon represents the City of Upland in the lead case, City of Upland v. G3 Holistic, Inc. (Case No. S198395). The Supreme Court also granted review in a companion case, City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient's Health and Wellness Center (Case No. S198638). These cases will decide whether the broad police power authority enjoyed by cities throughout California extends to an outright ban on dispensaries, or whether various state statutes limit that authority such that cities are required to allow dispensaries. The Supreme Court is expected to decide the cases in the next 18 to 24 months. There are approximately 125 cases raising these issues now pending in the California state courts.

The Supreme Court also granted review in two cases addressing other aspects of medical marijuana regulation - Pack v. Superior Court (Case No. S197169), which involves the City of Long Beach's regulatory program allowing medical marijuana dispensaries, and Traudt v. City of Dana Point (Case No. S197700), raising the question of who may file a lawsuit challenging a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Mitchell E. Abbott at 213-626-8484 or, or T. Peter Pierce at 213-626-8484 or

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