By Sergio H. Benavides
May 7, 2013
That could be the headline we all read online and in newspapers soon. You see, the California Supreme Court ruled, unanimously yesterday, in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health & Wellness Center, Inc.,56 Cal. 4th 729 (Cal. 2013), that local cities and town can pass zoning ordinances that effectively close down medical marijuana dispensaries. Because cities and towns always retain the right to control commerce within their jurisdictions by way of zoning laws.
The ongoing war between law enforcement and medical MJ advocates is far from over. Since voters in 1996 approved medical marijuana, the legal landscape has been a convoluted Wild West, with no state-based regulation of a highly popular medicine. We have more regulation over cough syrup. I have to get leered at by a pharmacist every time I go to get Claritin-D at a local Walgreens. It contains pseudoephedrine, one of the ingredients in the illegal narcotic, methamphetamine. So California regulates it. Hence, the leer. I have to hand over my I.D., it gets swiped in the credit card reader, and I have to click on some notification that I could face criminal charges if I misuse my allergy medicine. There you have it. Control, and regulation, by California state. It works, it makes sense.
Instead of fighting things out in the courts, California needs to regulate medical marijuana. Sooner or later, it will happen. Others states, such as Washington, have state-run alcohol stores. Maybe we should try state-run pot shops. Why not? There would be no problem with children buying it, all employees would go through background checks, and all patients would be required to verify their medical recommendations. It can work. It can be sensible. Something has to be done to create order and reliability in society on this issue. It's time we collectively must ask the legislature to pick up the reins on this wild bronco.