Appellate Courts

By Liset Márquez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Posted: 03/19/16 – 4:36 PM PDT |

RIVERSIDE >> In an unprecedented move, an appellate court has found Upland residents deserve the chance to overturn the city’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in a special election.

The appellate court Friday released an opinion siding with the California Cannabis Coalition, finding that Upland is obligated to hold a special election. The decision could cost the city up to $100,000 in legal fees.

After nearly a year tangled in legal proceedings, the attorney for the coalition isn’t sure the proponents will push for a special election or consolidate the measure with the general election.

“My clients have to decide the current political situation and which is the best election, in terms of winning,” said Roger Diamond, attorney for the coalition. “I have to meet with my clients and determine who are the likely voters to support the measure.”

Upland City Manager Rod Butler said the city attorney’s office is reviewing the decision and will be provide recommendations to the City Council, most likely at the April 11 meeting.

“The first decision for the Council will be whether or not to appeal this latest Court of Appeal decision,” Butler said, in an email.

The coalition sued the city last year, demanding its measure — which garnered 15 percent of the necessary signatures in January 2015 — be placed on a special election ballot. But the measure was placed on the November general election by the City Council whose members argued portions of the ballot measure would actually create a tax in the city.

In May 2015, a San Bernardino Superior Court judge sided with Upland, finding a component of the initiative, which would require dispensaries to pay $75,000 in annual licensing and inspection fees, is a tax, and the matter can only appear on the November ballot, because any new tax by a government agency can only come before voters in a general election.

Following the decision, Diamond filed an appeal with the Fourth District. He pushed for an expedited court date — which he got March 1 — in an effort to get a decision from the appellate court before it was too late to place the ballot measure on the June primary.

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