August 18 – In its long-awaited ruling in Qualified Patients Association vs. the City of Anaheim, the California Court of Appeals ruled that Anaheim could not use federal pre-emption as a grounds to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. The court struck down a lower court decision that had sustained a demurrer to QPA’s suit against Anaheim on the grounds that dispensaries were illegal under federal law.
On a second issue, the court found with the city of Anaheim as to whether the QPA could sue on the grounds that the city’s ordinance violated the state Unruh Act by discriminating against them on the basis of a disability or medical condition. The court ruled that the Unruh Act did not apply.
The court remanded the suit of Qualified Patients Association to the lower court, reinstating the plaintiffs’ cause of action seeking declaratory judgment on whether Prop. 215 and SB 420 pre-empt the city’s ordinance.
The bottom line is that it remains an open question as to whether local dispensary bans are illegal, but federal preemption is not a valid argument for declaring so.
CalNORML legal committee member Anthony Curiale of Brea was lead counsel for plaintiffs in the case.