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California Supreme Court upholds medical pot bans

Crime, Law and Justice

SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Supreme Court on Monday unanimously upheld the right of cities to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

“While some counties and cities might consider themselves well suited to accommodating medical marijuana dispensaries, conditions in other communities might lead to the reasonable decision that such facilities within their borders, even if carefully sited, well managed, and closely monitored, would present unacceptable local risks and burdens,” Justice Marvin R. Baxter wrote for the court.

Although voters or the Legislature may decide to adopt "a different approach" in the future, nothing in the current laws restricts the right of local governments to declare dispensaries a nuisance that must be prohibited, the court said.

“Facilities that dispense medical marijuana may pose a danger of increased crime, congestion, blight, and drug abuse, and the extent of this danger may vary widely from community to community,” the court said.

The court’s ruling upheld a ban on dispensaries by the city of Riverside. About 200 local governments in California prohibit such storefront operations, and Monday’s decision is expected to lead to more bans.

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