California Supreme Court  justices

Wes Woods II, Eric Bradley and Rick Orlov, Staff Writers
Posted: 01/14/2013 09:07:43 PM PST
Updated: 01/14/2013 10:55:25 PM PST

Two medical marijuana cases going before the state Supreme Court could determine whether dispensary bans by dozens of California cities are legal.

The City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient’s Health and Wellness Center is scheduled to begin Feb. 5 at the University of San Francisco School of Law over the city’s legal authority to ban the dispensaries, which was upheld by an appeals court last year.

In another upcoming case, City of Upland v. G3 Holistic Inc., G3 lawyers are expected to argue that cities can’t ban the dispensaries because they’re allowed under Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, which legally allows doctors to prescribe marijuana to patients.

Some cities contend they have the power to close the dispensaries based solely on zoning laws.

Medical marijuana advocates have said that more than 170 bans were in place across California at one point. The city and county of Los Angeles have both attempted to ban dispensaries but were forced to back down.

City officials also lean on federal law that says marijuana – medical or otherwise – is illegal.

“We’re watching the Riverside case very closely yes,” said T. Peter Pierce, an attorney for Los Angeles-based Richards, Watson & Gershon, which is representing Upland in its Supreme Court case.

“Once the Supreme Court decides, they would apply that decision in the G3 case as well as to all medical marijuana decisions.”

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Riverside, or local governments, it would affirm an appellate court ruling in the G3 case.

Attorneys representing G3 Holistic filed an appeal in December 2011 to the Supreme Court after the 4th District Court of Appeal in Riverside sided with Upland’s ban on dispensaries on Nov. 9, 2011, based on its zoning code language.

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