California Supreme Court rules local governments can ban pot dispensaries

Decision clears up conflicting lower court rulings

POSTED: 07:51 PM PDT May 06, 2013    UPDATED: 07:51 PM PDT May 06, 2013 
PALM DESERT, Calif. -

In a 7-0 decision, the California Supreme Court has ruled cities and counties have the constitutional right to shut down storefront medical marijuana dispensaries.

With the exception of Palm Springs, which permits three dispensaries to operate, all Coachella Valley cities ban pot dispensaries.

Attorney Steve Quintanilla represents Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs.  He's pleased the court ruled local governments can use their zoning powers to ban dispensaries from operating within their boundaries.  In fact, the decision was more far-reaching than he anticipated.

"In Rancho Mirage we only banned dispensaries, the storefront components of these collectives and cooperatives, but this opinion indicates to us cities can also ban cooperatives and collectives which is the nonprofit part of the business," said Quintanilla.

The state Supreme Court's decision stemmed from a legal challenge against the city of Riverside's ban on storefront dispensaries.