Fresno BOS action triggers medical marijuana cultivation lawsuit
Originally posted at CalNORML.
In an action supported by California NORML, medical marijuana patient James Maral will file a petition with the California Supreme Court to review the recent Third District Appellate Court decision upholding the city of Live Oak’s ban on medical marijuana cultivation.
San Francisco Attorney Joe Elford will draft and file the petition. “If you ban dispensaries and you ban cultivation, you’re ripping the heart out of California’s medical marijuana laws,” said Elford. “This decision conflicts with the intent of the electorate and Legislature and should not be allowed to stand.”
The announcement comes a day after Fresno county took steps to enact a total cultivation ban on first reading at its Board of Supervisors meeting. A second reading on the ordinance will take place on January 7.
Maral, 42, suffers from compartment syndrome, a painful life- and limb-threatening condition caused by insufficient blood supply to muscles and nerves. In addition, he has six damaged discs in his back, the result of his work as a heavy equipment driver. He and his family have lived in Live Oak for 15 years.
Maral is also a caretaker for his mother Donneda Maral, who has severe diverticulitis and Crohn’s disease, for which she is frequently hospitalized.
“The only thing I’m fighting for is the patients who just want a couple of plants in their backyard,” said Maral. “I’m not willing to let my mother die or live out the rest of her time in a hospital.” The Marals live at least two hours away from any medical marijuana dispensary.
Cultivation is exempted from state law for medical marijuana patients by Proposition 215, passed by the voters in 1996. State law SB420 established a “floor” of 6 mature or 12 immature plants as allowable per patient, permitting cities and counties to pass ordinances allowing for greater, not lesser, amounts. The California Supreme Court threw out SB420′s limits in People v. Kelly (2010), opting instead for allowing whatever a patient needs to grow.
Live Oak’s ban on medical marijuana cultivation took effect in January 2012, over the objections of local citizens. The only other known jurisdiction currently banning all medical marijuana cultivation is Tracy. Sacramento county has passed an ordinance zoning out anything federally illegal, and Sacramento sheriffs were out this year enforcing it by taking out gardens. The city of Selma rolled back their cultivation ban on October 16, voting to allow permitted, indoor gardens.
Prop. 215 co-author and CalNORML director Dale Gieringer, who sat on the state committee that wrote SB420, said, “The right of patients to grow their own medicine is fundamental to Prop. 215′s stated purpose of ensuring that ‘seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes.’ The city of Live Oak has no legitimate business prohibiting Mr. Maral from growing the medicine he needs at his own private residence.”
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Established in 1972, California NORML is the state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. We are a non-profit, membership organization dedicated to reforming California’s marijuana laws. Our mission is to establish the right of adults to use cannabis legally.