By Wes Woods II Staff Writer
Created: 09/01/2011 06:12:22 PM PDT

A bill just signed by Gov. Jerry Brown already has both sides arguing over whether it bans medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives.

Brown on Wednesday signed Assembly Bill 1300 of Bob Blumenfield, D-Van Nuys, which would apparently allow cities or counties to “regulate” such marijuana facilities in their boundaries.

However, the wording of the law which takes effect Jan. 1, does not mention the word “ban,” leaving it subject to a lot of interpretation.

The legislative counsel’s digest states the bill “shall not prevent a city or other local governing body from adopting and enforcing local ordinances that regulate the location, operation, or establishment of a medical marijuana cooperative or collective, or from the civil or criminal enforcement of these local ordinances.”

What attorney John D. Higginbotham of Best Best & Krieger, who represents Colton in its efforts to shut down two medical marijuana distributors who opened in violation of a city law against them, believes is the language does means “ban.”

“This clarifies what we think has already been clear,” said Higginbotham, whose firm has also won cases that allowed Claremont and Corona to shut down dispensaries. “Counties and cities can ban.”

Roger Jon Diamond, who represents G3 Holistic in the cooperative’s efforts to remain open in Upland, believes otherwise.

“We don’t think the Legislature has authorized a total ban,” Diamond said. He said Proposition 215, the 1996 law that approved medical cannabis in the state, would stop any kind of a ban.

In a news release from Blumenfield’s office, the assemblyman also does not use the word ban.

“Since there are virtually no legally binding state requirements on `pot shops,’ this new law is a first step towards much needed reform,” Blumenfield said in the release. “It will help prevent medical marijuana abuses, preserve local control, and elevate our debate about medical marijuana.”

According a spokesperson in Blumenfield’s office, reached late Thursday, “the bill is silent on the legality of `ban’ because this issue is being litigated.”

Both sides reached appeared to interpret the law along partisan lines.

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