In a somewhat strange and unexpected ruling issued yesterday, the California Court of Appeals ruled that California cities cannot ban medical marijuana dispensaries so long as they cultivate cannabis at the same location. The 48-page ruling came in the case of the City of Lake Forest vs. Evergreen Holistic Collective, one of several collectives the city shut down for violating its ban on pot clubs. Because state law allows for marijuana collectives to cultivate and distribute cannabis to members, the court stated, “a local government cannot ban as a nuisance exactly [original emphasis] what the Legislature contemplated would occur at cooperative and collective medical marijuana cultivation sites.”
One of the lawyers attached to the case is Matthew Pappas, whose separate lawsuit against the city of Long Beach resulted in a ruling last year that struck down large portions of the city’s controversial ordinance requiring collectives to apply for expensive permits that also required them to grow onsite, and which many observers, including the city itself, has interpreted to mean that California cities cannot regulate marijuana clubs at all.
In a letter to Kendra Carney, a deputy city attorney for Long Beach, that he provided to the Weekly, Pappas argued that the Lake Forest ruling further strikes down Long Beach’s ordinance–city code 5.89–which it has used to prosecute all but a select group of 18 dispensaries that not won the city’s lottery and came up with tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional fees and construction costs to comply with the city’s permitting process. (None of those 18 clubs have received operating permits so far).