PATIENT- ADVOCATES SERVE SUIT ON FRESNO FOR MEDICAL MARIJUANA DISPENSARY BAN

June 30, 2005
FRESNO, CA – Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a medical marijuana
patient-advocacy group, served a lawsuit today against the city of Fresno
for restricting medical marijuana dispensing collectives from operating as
enumerated in California law. (To read the lawsuit, go to
http://www.safeaccessnow.org/article. php?id=2017) The city of Fresno is one
of seven localities that have passed legislation restricting the rights of
qualified patients and their primary caregivers -- limiting to three the
number of qualified patients and primary caregivers who can form into
cooperatives.

ASA filed the lawsuit on April 25, 2005, and actually served the suit today,
one week after the state Attorney General Bill Lockyer issued an opinion
affirming that municipalities may not restrict the protections afforded by
the Compassionate Use Act and SB420 to qualified medical marijuana patients.
In particular, the opinion states that a city cannot define a "primary
caregiver" more narrowly than state law or limit the amount of marijuana
state law permits a qualified patient to possess because such provisions
would be pre-empted by state law. (To see the AG opinion, go to
http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/agopinion.pdf)

"The Attorney General's opinion goes a long way to curb the implementation
of unlawful local ordinances," said ASA Legal Campaign Director Kris Hermes.
"Municipalities considering restrictions on patient access to medical
marijuana
should be warned that these actions will have very real consequences."

Lockyer’s official opinion on this matter is one of several actions he has
taken in recent weeks to clarify the legal rights and responsibilities of
state officials since the US Supreme Court ruled that state-legal patients
can still be prosecuted under federal marijuana laws. On June 9 the Attorney
General’s office issued a bulletin to law enforcement clarifying that the
Supreme Court decision did not affect state law, and that California law
enforcement agencies should continue to not arrest nor prosecute individuals
acting legally under the Compassionate Use Act. (To see the memo, go to
http://www.safeaccessnow.org/downloads/Lockyer_Raich_Bulletin.pdf)

Americans for Safe Access is developing lawsuits against other localities
that they say are restricting safe and legal access to medical marijuana
patients. In addition to the six existing cities that have permanent bans:
Fresno, San Rafael, Lincoln, Rocklin, Murrieta, and Yuba City, Amador County
passed an ordinance on June 21, 2005, which permanently bans dispensing,
becoming the first county to enact a dispensing collective ban.

Three other locales are reported by ASA to be illegally restricting patient
access under state law: Lafayette, Costa Mesa, and Roseville. Lafayette has
never enacted a moratorium and has never passed an ordinance, though the
city manager says they will deny any request for permit for a medical
marijuana dispensary. According to a June 24 article in Contra Costa Times:
"Federal law trumps state law, and federal law prohibits the use of
marijuana," said City Manager Steve Falk. Any applications to start a
medical marijuana dispensary would be denied on those grounds, he said.
Costa Mesa, which did not have a moratorium, is voting July 5th on whether
or not to permanently ban dispensing. Roseville, which had a dispensing
ordinance, recently repealed it, and is now considering enacting a permanent
ban.

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