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California Supreme Court Debating Pot Dispensaries

Towns that currently have a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries could be impacted by ruling

Whether cities can ban medical marijuana dispensaries is the topic of a high-stakes court hearing going on today, Tuesday, in the California Supreme Court.

Today the court is hearing arguments on whether communities can prohibit the facilities in light of the 1996 voter-approved law legalizing pot for medicinal uses in California.

As detailed in a San Jose Mercury News story, the hearing stems from a Southern California case where a wellness center sued to overturn Riverside's ban on marijuana dispensaries.

Petaluma does not have a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries, but prior efforts to allow them have been opposed by both the police department and numerous city leaders, who argued that they increase crime and tax city resources.

Another argument has been that opening a dispensary would be dangerous in light of a federal crackdown over the past several years on facilities throughout California.

There are ispensaries throughout Sonoma County including in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. But many more cities in California have a ban including Los Gatos, Millbrae, Morgan Hill, Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Bruno, South San Francisco and Sunnyvale all have bans. 

But depending on the decision, expected this spring, cities may no longer be able to ban dispensaries, which supporters argue can be a big source of tax revenue for a city and would add legitimacy to the purchase of marijuana instead of sending people out into the streets.

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