There is a new weapon for cities that want to limit medical marijuana dispensaries; old school zoning laws. The city of Los Angeles is currently in a battle with local dispensaries over proposed zoning ordinances that could potentially cut the number of dispensaries from over 1,000 down to less than a dozen. There are multiple states now that have dispensaries, and more states are considering amendments to create dispensaries. Could this be the new battle field, as the feds have stepped out of the fight, and states do not have the same interests as local governments in this area? Neighborhood associations, schools, churches, and business groups are getting fed up with dispensaries taking over their neighborhoods. Patients, and especially dispensary owners who pay taxes, are opposed to any zoning limits. However, case law will clearly show that zoning businesses is perfectly legal, so long as the local government gives ‘due process.’ Which for you non-legal folks, it basically means that dispensaries are f’d if the city passes an ordinance. However, I predict (and the attached article also suggests) that this will be a blessing in disguise. It will create ‘medical marijuana districts’ in cities that allow dispensaries, which when you really think about it, is a fabulous idea. Marijuana dispensary patients will go where the medicine is; ‘If you build it, they will come.’ So take a dilapidated part of town that the city wants to be renovated, push the cost of the renovations onto the marijuana dispensary owners (who are making so much money they could buy gold toilets for the place at this point). The city/state/fed gets lots of tax revenue, areas of town are improved for free and neighborhood associations are happy because they will never see a dispensary again, so long as they don’t go to the medical marijuana district. Patients and dispensary owners are happy, because they now have their own little piece of a medical marijuana oasis. It’s a winner every way around.
28 states in the United States, as well as many other countries around the world, have legalized medical marijuana – with some even legalizing the