Santa Monica News
Municipalities Can Ban Marijuana Dispensaries
By Sebastian Sarti
May 11, 2013 - 5:03:57 PM

SANTA MONICA—The California Supreme Court unanimously voted on Monday, May 6, that counties and cities hold the right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in their respective zones.


The ruling will allow many bans to stay in place throughout the state. While it is legal in the state, the California Supreme Court ruled that municipalities have the right to determine whether or not the dispensaries are allowed in their jurisdictions. Therefore, each city and county can determine whether permits are released for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Municipalities can determine whether to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.


Medical marijuana is currently legal under the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 and is monitored by the Medical Marijuana Program. The California Supreme Court ruled that these two forays aim at “striking a delicate balance in an area that remains controversial, and involves sensitivity in federal-state relations.” In its ruling, the court stated that the provisions are modest and only aim to “remove state-level criminal and civil sanctions from specified medical marijuana activities,” but the provisions “do not establish a comprehensive state system of legalized medical marijuana; or grant a “right” of convenient access.”


Currently, Santa Monica has an emergency moratorium in place that bans medical marijuana permits in its jurisdiction. The moratorium is currently set to expire this fall. With the California Supreme Court’s ruling, the city will have to decide whether to make the moratorium a permanent fixture or to alter the current regulations.  The decision will come later this year.

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