Cities Must Decide Whether To Continue Moratoria on Marijuana Dispensaries
City officials must decide whether to extend moratoria on opening new medical marijuana dispensaries after a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday that the federal government can prohibit and prosecute possession and use of marijuana for medical purposes, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports.
Last year, six cities in San Luis Obispo County imposed moratoria on new dispensaries.
San Luis Obispo City Attorney Jonathan Lowell said he believes continuing the local moratorium is unnecessary because dispensing marijuana is illegal under federal law. He added that city officials are waiting for a legal opinion from the state attorney general.
However, Louis Koory, a lawyer who attempted to open a medical marijuana dispensary in San Luis Obispo in October 2004, said the Supreme Court ruling will not deter patients from using marijuana. "There is still a lot of interest in developing a distribution system in our county. There is such a system in place already, but it is somewhat underground," Koory said.
Koory believes the ban on dispensaries could be successfully challenged in state court because of California's Compassionate Use law of 1996, which was not overturned in the Supreme Court ruling.
Cmdr. Tom Olivas of the Morro Bay Police Department said, "We're not against the use of medical marijuana. What we wanted to do was make sure there were guidelines in place for dispensaries."
The Tribune reports that most county leaders are "unwilling" to establish their own guidelines "without official state guidelines and with the continuing conflict between state ... and federal law" (San Luis Obispo Tribune, 6/7).
The Sacramento Bee on Wednesday examined some medical marijuana users concerns about how the Supreme Court ruling will affect their ability to purchase or grow the substance. According to the Bee, federal drug enforcement officials have said "the ruling won't shift their focus from cultivators and traffickers to users who are sick and dying," but "several users said they are worried" (Maxwell/Lau, Sacramento Bee, 6/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.