What's Next for Medical Marijuana in California?

Here we go again. Yet another tale of the legal challenges that frequently follow the passage of ballot initiatives in California.

In a unanimous decision last week, the California Supreme Court ruled that cities and counties can prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries.. The state's highest court found that two state laws, the Compassionate Use Act and the Medical Marijuana Program, do not preempt the ability of localities to use zoning laws to ban pot shops. The Compassionate Use Act was enacted via the ballot initiative process in 1996. The Medical Marijuana Program is a companion piece of legislation passed by the legislature in 2003.

The court ruled that the California Constitution gives localities so-called "police powers" under which they can legislate for the health, safety, and welfare of their jurisdictions. The court found that under those powers, localities have the authority to prohibit pot shops because the state statutes did not explicitly or implicitly prevent localities from imposing those prohibitions.

If the instead Compassionate Use Act had included a specific statement providing that localities cannot use their police powers to ban marijuana dispensaries then the court's decision likely would have come out the other way. But, of course, the initiative did not include such language. Any such language would have been a gift to opponents of the initiative. Thus the court was able to read the state laws narrowly.

What This Week's Supreme Court Ruling Means For L.A.'s 3 Marijuana Ballot Measures

A closeup of a marijuana bud grown in an indoor growing facility in Santa Barbara, CA. | Photo: Courtesy Kyle Trafas

In the wake of the California Supreme Court opinion affirming that cities and counties can outlaw medical marijuana dispensaries by invoking local zoning laws, proponents of medicinal pot in Los Angeles say the stakes are now higher for passing a comprehensive plan regulating the sale and distribution of marijuana in the city.

The state's highest court ruled unanimously Monday that the city of Riverside had the right to prohibit all pot dispensaries in their jurisdiction, adding to a list of roughly 200 localities with zoning bans already in place. It's the expectation by many engrossed in California's marijuana debate that other cities and counties will follow suit, upping the ante for the three medicinal pot initiatives -- Proposition D and ordinances E and F -- on Los Angeles' May 21 ballot.

"Given yesterday's Court ruling, if none of the three medical marijuana measures passes, it could embolden the City Council to once again seek banning [dispensaries] altogether," said Bradley Hertz, an attorney for the Yes on Proposition D campaign, a Los Angeles City Council-backed initiative seeking to regulate local pot shops.

L.A.'s May 21 Election: Today is the Last Day to Register to Vote

If you want to vote for a new Los Angeles Mayor, on three medical marijuana propositions, and other items in a few weeks, today is your last chance to register.

And by this point, the only way to really guarantee registration, is to do it online before midnight; it's handled by the California Secretary of State's office at this webpage. The other option is more cumbersome: fill out a paper form and hand deliver to L.A. County's Norwalk office by close of business.

Besides four propositions, including an advisory measure about election money, the May 21 election is the final say for a number of political offices not decided during the March 5 Primary election. KCET's Ballot Brief has been tracking (and now mapping) the direct donations to candidates in these races, all which can be seen here.

Oil & Gas Tax Prop Clears Hurdle for 2014 Ballot

Oil derricks in L.A. County. | Photo: Storm Crypt/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Backers of an initiative to impose a 9.5 percent tax on oil and natural gas extracted in California, primarily to increase funding for education, received permission last week from Secretary of State Debra Bowen to begin gathering signatures.

During its first 10 years, 60 percent of the revenues generated by what is dubbed as the California Modernization and Economic Development Act would be allocated to education -- split equally between kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education.

Another 22 percent would go to clean energy projects and research, 15 percent to counties for infrastructure and public health and safety services, and 3 percent to state parks.

Do California Lawmakers Actually Write Our Laws?

Who writes the law? Many of us assume that legislators or their staffers perform this task. But that answer may be only partially complete.

In California, a bill's "sponsor" is listed in legislative analyses. This purportedly gives the public important information about the identity of those supporting measures which may become law.

Welcome to the Super PAC Era

Is candidate centered campaign fundraising a thing of the past?

Greetings, and welcome to the Super PAC era. Thanks in part to the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United, we now have new entities called "Super PACs," which are organizations that can raise and spend unlimited political funds.

1 2 3 4 5 6 ... 8 9