Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Ordinance Declared Unconstitutional Under both State and Federal law

Whoever said you couldn't take on city hall was wrong. In a landmark victory for medical marijuana collectives, Judge Mohr of the Los Angeles Superior Court struck down several key portions of the City's medical marijuana ordinance in December 2010. Cannabis Law Group was an active law firm in the litigation, representing 12 collectives in their fight against the City and we are proud to report that this ordinance has been declared unconstitutional.

In particular, the Judge ruled that two portions of the Ordinance are pre-empted, or trumped, by California's medical marijuana laws. The Ordinance violates the equal protection clauses of the state and federal constitutions. The Ordinance was found to violate the due process clause of the Constitution of the State of California as well. In addition, the Ordinance violates the Plaintiffs' informational privacy rights under the Constitution of the State of California as to their general contract information. Lastly, the criminal penalties set out in the Ordinance are also preempted.

The Court relied on the recent ruling in Qualified Patients vs. City of Anaheim which held that the MMPA provides qualifying persons immunity from nonfederal criminal sanction imposed "solely on the basis" of engaging in medical marijuana activities. In other words the Court found that there is a contradiction between the Ordinance and the MMPA and that the MMPA trumps L.A.'s ordinance in this regard.

The Ordinance deprives certain Plaintiffs of equal protection of the laws. Specifically, the ordinance's use of the November 13, 2007 deadline loses any relation to the Ordinance's stated purpose of enhancing public safety, because the ICO was invalid before the deadline came. There was no longer any reason to comply. Therefore the Court found that the use of the November 13, 2007 deadline arbitrary and capricious such that it violates the equal protection clauses of the constitutions of the United States and the State of California. Compliance the expired Ordinance cannot be the sole basis of the right to continue operating.

The Ordinance violates the procedural due process rights of certain collectives because the City provided no opportunity for the collectives to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner. The Court found "most troubling are the complaints that the police have raided collectives where, allegedly, no laws have been broken."

The Ordinance violates members' rights to privacy in their general contact information. The Ordinance requires certain procedural steps before the police can obtain "private medical records," the name, address, and telephone number of a member (patient) is not protected, nor is there any control with respect to what the police may do with this information. During one hearing, counsel for the City candidly admitted that the police may run a member's name through databases in order to determine whether that person has a criminal record, and if so, the police may monitor that person or place that person under surveillance. The Court found that a person with a criminal record has the right to obtain medical marijuana should a licensed physician so recommend, and she should not have her rights abridged for doing so. Because the Ordinance permits police to obtain medical marijuana patients' general contact information without any procedural safeguards, portions of the Ordinance violate the Plaintiffs' right to informational privacy.

If you are thinking about taking your collective's fight to court, call CANNABIS LAW GROUP today at 714-937-2050.

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