The 4th District Court of Appeal heard arguments on Riverside and Upland prohibitions

Published: 02 November 2011 08:29 PM

A state appellate court panel heard arguments Wednesday on whether Riverside and Upland can issue citywide bans on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Arguing before a courtroom crowded mostly with supporters of the dispensaries, attorneys for the cities argued that nothing in the 1996 Compassionate Use Act (Prop. 215) or the state Legislature’s Medical Marijuana Program which outlines usage, preempts municipalities from banning the facilities.

Arguing for Riverside, attorney Jeffrey V. Dunn said the laws never contemplated commercial businesses to sell marijuana. He said the original concept was for personal cultivation.

Lawyers for the dispensaries said total bans, such as the ones issued by Upland and Riverside, frustrate the intent of the state’s voters and lawmakers to permit limited legal use of marijuana for medical needs.

“We believe a total ban contradicts the policy set by voters when (Prop. 215) was passed in 1996,” attorney Roger Jon Diamond told the three-judge panel in Riverside. He said a “common sense” view is that voter approval of the proposition at least implied state preemption of local bans.

Cities do have the right to regulate such matters as dispensary hours, appearance and location, but “In terms of a total ban, that crosses the line,” said Diamond, who represents G3 Holistic Inc. in the Upland case.

Arguing for Upland, attorney Mitchell E. Abbott said the state’s laws regarding medical marijuana are “very narrow,” essentially guaranteeing that qualified patients, caregivers and providers cannot be prosecuted, and nothing else.

“There is, respectfully, no ‘common sense’ preemption” of municipalities from banning clinics, he said.

Attorneys for G3 Holistic were asking the court to “Engraft onto the statute something the voters decided not to put there,” Abbott said.

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