Really, you have to wonder what these judges were smoking.
Here, read for yourself (quick version for those with short attention spans), courtesy of Times staff writer Maura Dolan:
California cities may not ban medical marijuana dispensaries, but the operations may sell only weed that is grown on site, an appeals court ruled in an Orange County case.
The unanimous decision by a three-judge Court of Appeal panel in Santa Ana was the first in the state to prohibit cities from enacting zoning restrictions that effectively ban all marijuana dispensaries. The court was also the first to rule that dispensaries must grow the marijuana they sell, a requirement that would force most of them out of business.
To which I say: Dudes, what?
You can't bar dispensaries but you can require them to grow their own, right at the store?
Will this also mean that pharmacies can only sell Viagra if they make it on site? That markets have to become wineries or breweries to sell Chardonnay and Bud Light? Is Trader Joe's going to have to slaughter the cows and pigs right there in the store? What about Starbucks? It’s gonna be tough growing all that coffee in the little shops.
OK, not perfect analogies perhaps. But really, how does this ruling bring clarity to an issue that seriously needs some? As the story says:
The Lake Forest decision added to a stack of rulings that have befuddled local governments and was unlikely to add much clarity.
One appeals court upheld the right of cities to use zoning laws to prohibit dispensaries. Another said city regulations that allow any medical marijuana violate federal law. A federal judge this week threw out a lawsuit to prevent the federal government from shutting down dispensaries.
And it's not even about political ideology. Two of the three judges were Republican appointees, the other a Democratic appointee.
The real problem here is -- to paraphrase Jack Nicholson's famous line in "A Few Good Men" -- "We can't handle the truth."
Both sides on this issue are trying to achieve something without actually admitting it. Many supporters of medical marijuana, for example, are really advocates for legalizing marijuana, period. And cities that enact ordinances such as Lake Forest's may say they're trying to regulate the industry, but in fact they're trying to shut down legal businesses that they don't want.
For example, from Dolan's story:
Jeffrey Dunn, a lawyer who represented Lake Forest, said the court's requirement that dispensaries sell pot grown only on site would shut down most storefront operations.
"I don't see how you can grow in a tiny, rented space enough pot for over 1,000 customers," Dunn said.
Exactly. You can't.
Except, the sale of medical marijuana is legal. Californians voted for it. Californians want it. Laws restricting it won't change that.
[For the record: OK, yes, that is incorrect. The sale of marijuana is not legal in California. Rather, I should have said that Proposition 215, which Californians passed in 1996, allows people, with a doctor's permission, to grow, possess and use marijuana for medical purposes.]
The real solution, of course, is simple: Just legalize marijuana.
But if we can't do that, we should at least stop with these silly ordinances, which only spawn equally silly court rulings.
-- Paul Whitefield
Photo: Los Angeles Times