California Supreme Court to weigh in on legality of medical marijuana laws again

The California Supreme Court has jumped into the fray again over the legality of medical marijuana laws, deciding Wednesday to review two lower court rulings that impact how and whether local governments can regulate pot dispensaries across the state.

In their weekly closed-door session, the justices voted unanimously to review cases out of Long Beach and Riverside that dealt with the ongoing conflict between California’s voter-approved law allowing the use of medical marijuana and federal laws barring the use or sale of the drug.

In the Long Beach case, a state appeals court last year concluded the city’s attempts to regulate medical marijuana collectives clashed with federal drug laws and struck down the city’s ordinance.

A separate appeals court ruling out of Riverside County found that local governments have the right to legally ban medical pot dispensaries, giving local officials the clout to shutter them despite Proposition 215’s provisions allowing marijuana use for medical purposes.

The Supreme Court’s intervention comes at a time when federal law enforcement officials have resumed a high-profile crackdown on medical marijuana providers throughout California. There are federal lawsuits pending in San Francisco and elsewhere challenging that campaign.

Medical marijuana advocates were pleased the Supreme Court is reviewing the issue.

“These cases were very problematic for patients and their ability to safely and legally access a medication that works for them,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group.

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