Posted by: Patricia Salkin | August 27, 2016

CA Appeals Court Finds Ordinances Banning Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in City Did Not Discriminate Against Medical Marijuana Users in Violation of State or Federal Law

Plaintiffs, two medical cannabis “collectives/dispensaries” (The Kind and Compassionate, and Final Cut) and three medical cannabis patients, were members of The Kind and Compassionate collective. Plaintiffs alleged 11 causes of action against the City of Long Beach and/or three of its employees or officers (Eric Sund, Robert Shannon and Robert Foster), all arising from the city’s enforcement of municipal ordinances that first regulated and then entirely prohibited the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries within the city’s borders. The principal claim in the complaint was that defendants discriminated against plaintiffs by enacting and enforcing these ordinances, which plaintiffs asserted were facially discriminatory and had a disparate and adverse impact on persons with disabilities.

Plaintiffs’ first claimed that the city ordinances regulating, and then banning medical marijuana dispensaries discriminated against persons with disabilities. The court found municipal regulation of, and bans on, medical marijuana dispensaries could not operate to discriminate against persons with disabilities, because those people have no fundamental right of convenient access to medicinal marijuana in the first place. Plaintiffs’ Bane Act claim likewise failed, as there is no federal or state law granting plaintiffs the right to lease property to operate a marijuana collective, so defendants could not have interfered with any such right. Additionally, Plaintiffs’ Section 1983 claim failed, since they failed to dispute the city’s assertion that it never issued a permit to plaintiffs to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in the city.

Lastly, the complaint alleged three state law causes of action against the individual defendants: tortious interference with business relations; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and civil conspiracy. The court found the Plaintiffs’ failed to adequately state any of these claims, however, as the complaint failed to identify any lease agreement, to identify the date of any contact and threat, to describe the nature of the contact or threat, to allege any actual breach or disruption of a lease agreement, and to describe how or what damage ensued. The court determined that the allegations of “police raids” were entirely conclusory, with no facts showing conduct exceeding the bounds tolerated in a civilized community. Furthermore, the court held the city’s enforcement of its marijuana ordinances did not constitute extreme and outrageous behavior. Accordingly, the trial court did not err in sustaining the city’s demurrer to the first amended complaint.

The Kind and Compassionate v City of Long Beach, 2016 WL 4150744 (CA App. 8/4/2016)

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