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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Battles

Posted by Dmitry Gorin | Nov 11, 2009 | 0 Comments

A particularly contentious area of the law for Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys is medical marijuana law. While medical marijuana was legalized in Los Angeles and the rest of the state, law enforcement (both state and federal) continue to raid medical marijuana dispensaries. In fact, this battle is taking place throughout the state of California. Arguments over medical marijuana use, as well as in other cities, are heating up all over California. By some accounts, there are more medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles than there are Starbucks and 7/11 stores. In Fresno, the fight over medical marijuana has recently been focusing on zoning laws and the overlap of legal jurisdiction between the city, state and national government. Fresno recently adopted zoning laws that effectively prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries from operating in city limits. Federal policy technically makes the use of marijuana illegal, even for medical purposes. The Obama administration, however, has taken a less forceful track than the Bush administration, saying it will not prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries or the patients who use it in states where it is legal by state law. Fresno's nine recognized marijuana dispensaries have been ordered to close their doors while lawyers hash out their legality in court. In 2006, Fresno very obviously attempted to ban dispensaries within city limits by drafting zoning laws that specified that all marijuana dispensaries must comply with both state and federal laws in order to operate. Since federal law prohibits marijuana dispensaries, no dispensary could fully comply and remain open legally. Opponents of the use of marijuana for medical purposes argue that Fresno's zoning laws banning marijuana dispensaries are supported by federal law, which supersedes state law. Those in favor of medical marijuana argue that states' rights and California state law should prevail, keeping the dispensaries open. Trial in the case has been set for January, 2010. In the meantime, opponents of the dispensaries have asked the presiding judge for a temporary restraining order that would shutter all of the city's dispensaries until after the trial. The order was granted on October 28th. Attorneys for the city's nine dispensaries will appeal the decision in an attempt to keep the dispensaries open until the trial begins. Medical marijuana policies are likewise subject to the same confusion. While city zoning laws have not gone so far as to ban marijuana dispensaries, possession, sale or the manufacture of marijuana for medical purposes may still get you arrested, depending on the law enforcement agency that arrests you. With such a complicated criminal matter, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney by your side. Tagged as: los angeles medical marijuana attorney, los angeles medical marijuana dispensary


Vincent Palladino (UCLA) on December 9, 2009 at 12:19 a.m. wrote: And if medical marijuana policies couldn't get any stickier (no pun intended), the Los Angeles City Council decided today to cap the total number of medical marijuana dispensaries at 70, but to allow those that originally registered with the city to remain open. Although the initial intent of the cap was to ensure that dispensaries would not be concentrated in any one neighborhood, it seems that a low number would be easier to control. City officials say between 800 and 1,000 dispensaries are operating. The only other city among the state's 10 largest to impose a cap is Oakland, which has less than one-tenth the population of Los Angeles and allows four dispensaries. Those operations have become extremely successful, splitting about $20 million a year in sales. Hoa Nguyen on December 1, 2009 at 12:03 a.m. wrote: Federal law makes medical marijuana illegal, while state law allow it to be used for medical purposes. However, the person using marijuana for medical purposes may still be arrested depending on the law enforcement agency. There needs to be greater consistency for medical marijuana laws. Until then, it would be wise for persons using medical marijuana to have an attorney on hand. Hoa Nguyen on November 30, 2009 at 11:59 p.m. wrote: Federal law makes it illegal to use marijuana, while state law allows it for medical purposes. However, the person using it may be arrested depending on law enforcement agency. Greater consistency, or any consistency, is needs for medical marijuana laws. Until then, it seem it would be wise for the person using marijuana for medical purposes to have an attorney on hand. Lizzie on November 18, 2009 at 3:11 p.m. wrote: This haggling over the legality or illegality of marijuana usage is really annoying. I wish peole would come to some sort of agreement. Dottie on November 14, 2009 at 4:23 p.m. wrote: It will be interesting to see how this turns out. Thanks for the great blog.

About the Author

Dmitry Gorin

Dmitry Gorin is a licensed attorney, who has been involved in criminal trial work and pretrial litigation since 1994. Before becoming partner in Eisner Gorin LLP, Mr. Gorin was a Senior Deputy District Attorney in Los Angeles Courts for more than ten years. As a criminal tri...


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