Medical Marijuana Dispensaries In Colorado More Likely To Survive Than California

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Jim Finnel

Cannabis Warrior - News Moderator
Hundreds of medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles face imminent closure after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed an ordinance into law on Monday severely limiting the number of such businesses. Where today there are perhaps 500 or more dispensaries in the LA area, the ordinance limits the number to 186, meaning that most will simply be required to close shop or face SWAT raids and criminal charges. In Colorado, the mood is equally grim: Hundreds of dispensaries anticipate the same fate as their California cohorts, as the state Senate considers a bill that will allow local governments to ban dispensaries in their communities and impose severe restrictions on those that are allowed to remain.

But there is a critical difference.
Whereas California's medical marijuana statute was passed by voters in the form of a proposition, which lends itself more easily to tinkering and manipulation, Colorado's medical marijuana law is codified in the state Constitution. And that means that the state legislature can't simply grant local municipalities powers that supersede it.

As pointed out in an editorial in yesterday's Colorado Springs Gazette:

If the bill should become law, legislators and lawyers will speak mumbo jumbo to explain how a city council has some mysterious new right to ban cultivation and sales. No matter what they say, the state constitution clearly has more authority. It directly protects the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana. Amendment 20 says (emphasis added by Gazette): "‘Medical use' means the acquisition, possession, production, use, or transportation of marijuana..."

The right to acquisition, possession and use requires the right to buy, sell and grow. It's just that simple. A local government cannot prohibit the sale or cultivation of marijuana without violating the right to possess, use and acquire it. Legislatures cannot pass laws that violate individual rights protected by constitutional law.

As clear as that may be to anyone other than a state lawmaker, it's my prediction that the bill will pass nonetheless. That will be followed by the quick passage of numerous local ordinances banning dispensaries and that, in turn, will lead to injunctions and lawsuits filed by dispensaries and their advocates (and the costs of defending those suits will not be borne by the General Assembly passing the bill, but by the counties, cities and towns following its ill-conceived provisions). And the dispensaries will win. There is already court precedence in this matter -- remember when the city of Centennial tried to outlaw the dispensary CannaMart and lost in court?

Here's what Arapahoe County District Court Judge Christopher Cross had to say when he ruled in favor of CannaMart: "The city has in effect enforced a federal law by sending the cease and desist letter to CannaMart, and they did so in violation of CannaMart's constitutional rights to operate that business. The city is able to zone this sort of use, but it would be contrary to the state's constitution to totally ban this sort of activity."

He called such an attempt to circumvent the Constitution "an irreparable injury to all of us."

So too would passing House Bill 1284, but it's a lesson lawmakers might be destined to learn in court.


NewsHawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: dscriber.com
Author: Greg Campbell
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Website: Medical marijuana dispensaries in Colorado more likely to survive than California | dscriber

• Thanks to MedicalNeed for submitting this article