Key Court Rulings

Cal Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case On Patient Cultivation Rights
March 26 – In a disappointing setback for Prop 215 patients’ rights, the CA Supreme Court denied review of the Maral v Live Oak appellate decision, which upheld the right of local governments to completely ban personal use cultivation by medical marijuana patients.


  • California Supreme Court Rules Cities and Counties May Allow or Ban Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
    May 6 – The California Supreme Court has issued its long-anticipated ruling in the City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center case. “Some counties and cities might consider themselves well suited to accommodating medical marijuana dispensaries, conditions in other communities might lead to the reasonable decision that such facilities within their borders…would present unacceptable local risks and burdens.”
  • Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Tehama County Cultivation Ordinance
    February 6 – The 3rd District Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Tehama county on a challenge to their medical marijuana cultivation ordinance.
  • US District Court Rejects Marijuana Rescheduling Petition
    January 22, 2013 – The US Court of Appeals has turned down an appeal by the Coalition to Reschedule Cannabis to reschedule marijuana.
  • 2012

  • Appeals Court Rules Marijuana Use Not Sufficient Reason to Make Child Dependent of Court
    December 7 – A California Appellate Court has reversed a trial court decision declaring a child to be a dependent of the court, as well as an order that the father undergo drug testing and parenting courses because of his medical marijuana use.
  • Two Appellate Court Decisions Affirm Legitimacy of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
    March 4, 2012 – The legal status of medical cannabis dispensaries has been bolstered by two appellate court rulings in the past week, People v. Colvin and Lake Forest v Evergreen Caregivers.
  • 2011

  • Court Strikes Down Long Beach Dispensary Licensing Law
    Oct. 4 – In a ruling with far-reaching implications, an appellate court struck down a Long Beach medical marijuana dispensary licensing ordinance as being contrary to federal law (Pack et al. vs Superior Court of Los Angeles, California 2nd District Court of Appeals, 3rd Division).
  • Orange County Court Upholds Anaheim Dispensary Ban
    August 15 – Orange Co. Superior Court Judge David Chaffee ruled that the city of Anaheim may legally prohibit medical cannabis dispensaries, highlighting the need for a legal medical marijuana distribution system in California.
  • DEA Closes Eyes to Evidence, Rejects Petition to Reschedule Marijuana for Medical Use
    July 8 – After nine years of regulatory delay, the DEA rejected a petition by a coalition of groups including NORML to reschedule marijuana for medical use. The response came only after advocates sued in federal court for unreasonable delay.
  • 2010

  • Anaheim Court Decision Rejects Federal Preemption Argument
    August 18 – In a long-awaited ruling, the California Court of Appeals ruled that the city of Anaheim could not use federal pre-emption as a grounds to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.
  • Ca Supreme Court Strikes Down Medical Marijuana Possession, Cultivation Limits
    January 21 – As expected, in People v. Kelly the court struck down the so-called SB 420 quantity limits in Ca Health & Safety code 11362.77 as applied to patients’ right to grow, but upheld their application for other purposes, e.g. as a “safe harbor” guideline for protecting patients from arrest.
  • 2009

  • Appeals Court Rules Some Cities May Disallow Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
    September 28 – The 2nd District Court of Appeals upheld an injunction disallowing a medical cannabis dispensary in Claremont. The court ruled that the city could deny a dispensary a business permit on the grounds that no such businesses were authorized under the city’s land use and development code. It left open the possibility of applying for a code amendment.

    May 18, 2009 – The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear case #08-887 San Diego County, CA, et al. V. San Diego NORML, et al., leaving in place an appeals court ruling holding that California law trumps federal law over medical marijuana.
  • 2008

  • Cal Supreme Court Rules Prop 215 Caregivers Must Do More Than Just Supply Marijuana
    November 24, 2008 – In a blow to medical marijuana providers, the California Supreme Court ruled in People v. Roger Mentch that defendants are not entitled to a defense as Prop. 215 caregivers if their primary role is only to supply marijuana to patients.
  • October 16, 2008 – The California Supreme Court today declined to review a lawsuit filed by San Diego, Merced and San Bernardino counties claiming federal laws supercede California’s medical marijuana law. Read more.
  • Three Appellate Court Rulings on Medical Marijuana
    AUGUST 8, 2008 – Last week saw three significant California Appellate Court rulings on medical marijuana, most of them favorable to medical marijuana patients, but one with cautionary implications for “primary caregivers.” The cases are: Counties of San Diego & San Bernardino v San Diego NORML & Wendy Christakes, People v. Windus, and People v Phomphakdy.
  • CA Supreme Court Rules Employers Can Discriminate Against Workers Using Medical Marijuana
    The California Supreme Court ruled 5-2 that employers can drug test and fire workers for using medical marijuana. The court dismissed a lawsuit brought by Gary Ross under the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) arguing that he had been wrongfully denied employment by RagingWire Telecommunications on account of testing positive for past use of marijuana on a urine test.
  • 2006

  • December 6 – Judge rejects San Diego lawsuit challenging Prop. 215
  • 2005

  • June – Supreme Court rules against medical marijuana patients Raich & Monson – state medical marijuana law NOT affected.
  • Also see: Landmark CA Criminal Cases