Vol. 19 No. 9- Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Correction! Correction!

July 19, 2004


In a Client Alert Memo, dated July 9, 2004, we stated, incorrectly, that California law permits medical marijuana dispensaries. In fact, there is no such authorization in Prop. 215, nor in the ensuing legislation. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by this error and want to thank those who brought it to our attention.

Unfortunately, that one sentence has become the focus of our memo, when the actual purpose of our memo was to alert jurisdictions to what IS occurring. The opening, or attempted opening, of such dispensaries, as in the cities of Roseville, Jackson and Rocklin, is a reality. If your jurisdiction is going to permit such enterprises, and wants to regulate their need to secure a conditional use permit, location, hours of operation, use of “medication” on site, etc., it is necessary to have an ordinance in place in your city or county zoning code.

There is still an ongoing legal controversy between those states which permit medical use of marijuana and the federal government, as a result of the federal law which still prohibits the use and/or possession of marijuana for any purpose. It is the position of, for example, the Rocklin City Attorney that a city can prohibit the operation of such an enterprise for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it violates federal laws.  If you wish to deny a permit to such enterprises, it is would be easier to defend if ordinances are already in place and justification is articulated.


We still suggest that this issue be brought to the attention of your city attorney or county counsel, for advice and guidance. It might also be appropriate to confer with the county’s District Attorney to secure guidance from him or her, as well. Once again, we apologize for our error.