California Pot Shop Laws: Gov. Brown Gives Cities The Power

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The "Wild West" days of medical marijuana dispensaries are now over, courtesy of a new law signed by Governor Jerry Brown.

Bill AB 1300 (PDF), proposed by Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield of Woodland Hills, allows cities to regulate the medical marijuana dispensaries in their area. It also allows cities to file civil or criminal claims against them for violations.

Blumenfield told the Los Angeles Times, "the new law will provide a framework for stability after years of struggling with a Wild West, lawless proliferation of dispensaries across California that sometimes constitute a public nuisance or worse."

The law bridges that nebulous gap between the security needs of local jurisdictions and the state's authorization of marijuana dispensaries for medical purposes. A statement released by Assemblyman Blumenfield's office explains that before this law, local efforts to enforce zoning, permit, and other business regulations have been stymied by lawsuits from medical marijuana advocacy groups that claim state law preempts cities from monitoring and enforcing pot shops. Blumenfield states:

“Since there are virtually no legally binding state requirements on 'pot shops,' this new law is a first step towards much needed reform... It will help prevent medical marijuana abuses, preserve local control, and elevate our debate about medical marijuana.”

Opponents of the law fear that AB 1300 is just one more step toward less rights for medical marijuana users. Advocacy group California NORML asserts that the bill "does nothing to assure that patients who can't grow their own [marijuana] will have safe or convenient access to medicine in their community." A commenter on The Grow Report forum notes that there is nothing in the law that prevents cities from banning dispensaries outright, as Anaheim, California has done.

Only one lawmaker voted against the bill in the California Assembly (Tom Ammiano of San Francisco, reports the LA Weekly) and it had no opposition in the Senate. The law takes effect starting January 1, 2012.

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