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Medical Marijuana Dispensary Ban By Cities Still Legal, Rules California Supreme Court

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Today the California Supreme Court unanimously upheld the right of cities in the state to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.

When making the ruling on the case entitled City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, the court also recognized the legality of the operations.

Not surprisingly, the judgment was a blow to Americans for Safe Access, the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy group, which had filed an amicus "friend of the court" brief in the Riverside case, although they optimistically stated in a press release, "Notably, the court emphasized that, 'nothing prevents future efforts by the Legislature, or by the People, to adopt a different approach.'"

There are currently around 1,000 dispensaries open throughout the state, with 44 cities and ten counties allowing them and 193 cities banning them, as listed on the ASA's website.

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The statement went on to say, "Despite the outcome of the Riverside case, research has shown that well-regulated dispensaries decrease crime in surrounding neighborhoods, while providing a safe and legal means for patients to obtain their medical marijuana."

Don Duncan, ASA's California Policy Director, added, "Patients should not be pushed into dark alleys in order to obtain a medicine that has been deemed legal by the voters of California… The ball is in the legislature's court to establish statewide regulations that both meet the needs of patients and keep communities safe."

As our previous coverage shows, it's an ongoing, highly contentious issue. And with the LA Times weighing in by saying today's ruling will likely lead to the closure of more pot shops, it looks like the weed wars will continue for a while.