January 2, 2014

WHAT’S WHAT: Prop D and Other Proposed Ordinances on California marijuana

More than any other year, 2013 has been the year of city bans, regulations and proposed ordinances. In 2012, very few cities in the entire State of California had taken action to regulate medical cannabis. Of those few, almost zero were in Southern California. Now, Los Angeles has Prop D, which allows for medical cannabis dispensaries that existed before September 2007, capping the number at 135 in the city. Other cities seem to be following suit, passing similar regulations to Los Angeles, while others have enacted a complete ban on dispensaries and cultivation.


Riverside: We were all affected this year by the bad news out of Riverside that went all the way to the California Supreme Court—a ruling that cities can ban dispensaries altogether. That being said, Riverside citizens have taken action and are putting an ordinance regulating dispensaries on the ballot for a vote!

Long Beach: City officials first took a ban-stance on medical cannabis dispensaries, but now are taking steps to draft an ordinance allowing some dispensaries there. The Planning Commission will propose guidelines and, hopefully, they will come to a final resolution that will most benefit the citizens of Long Beach before April 2014.

Santa Monica: Two dispensaries are proposed to be allowed to open next year. Who those dispensaries are and what guidelines they will have to follow is yet to be determined.

San Diego: A little further down the coast of California, San Diego finally looks like it will be allowing some dispensaries to remain operating, as a draft ordinance to regulate medical cannabis is slated to go before the City Council in February. Notwithstanding this good news, the San Diego District Attorney maintains that any exchange of money for cannabis is deemed illegal.

Santa Ana: There is a ban on all dispensaries (despite the fact that you will see at least 20 open today). Although, the City Attorney sent threatening letters to all dispensaries there, enough Santa Ana-ites gathered with a petition against the city’s ruling, allowing cannabis clubs to remain open until the November 2014 election. One proposed ordinance would allow at least 12 dispensaries.


Live Oak: In a most upsetting decision, a court of appeal recently approved cultivation ban, stating that a ban on cultivation (similar to a ban on dispensaries) is within the city’s purview and does not conflict with state law. This decision sets disturbing precedent and will likely be challenged and fought in front of the California Supreme Court.

Fresno: Fresno also seems to be climbing aboard the cultivation ban-wagon. A final vote by the Board of Supervisors for a total ban will take place in January. If the ban goes through it will be enacted in the month of February 2014.

San Jose: This city tried to enact a ban on cultivation but instead opted for stricter regulation on cultivation. As for dispensaries, a final vote on regulations will take place in March 2014.

Napa: Medical cannabis patients have been publicly at odds with the city council. Every week there seems to be a new discussion on it! Although nothing has been approved yet, we must all commend Napa’s patients for their organization, dedication and perseverance.

Although California was the first state to allow for medical cannabis, we fell far behind other states as we have continued to botch local and statewide regulation. With the size of this state and all the competing interests, it is not hard to understand why. As more and more cities are finally coming to accept that MMJ is here to stay though, we must rise above these challenges, and continue fighting the good fight!

Meital Manzuri is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney, speaker and consultant for patients, collectives and dispensaries. If you have questions about medical cannabis or any other criminal defense matters, she can be contacted via phone at (310) 601-3140 or Manzurilaw.com.

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Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice.