Facts: A business operated a medical marijuana dispensary (MMD) in an area of a county where MMDs are prohibited under zoning regulations. The county attempted to discontinue the nonconforming use of the property.
Claim: The MMD sought to continue operations, claiming the county could not shut down the MMD since zoning regulations prohibiting MMDs are unenforceable as they violate state law.
Counter claim: The county sought to prohibit the MMD from operating in violation of the county’s zoning laws, claiming the zoning laws are valid since they do not violate state laws and are a reasonable exercise of the county’s power.
Holding: A California Court of Appeals held the MMD may not operate in locations in violation of the county’s zoning laws, since the zoning laws are valid as they do not violate state law and are a reasonable exercise of the county’s power to enact local legislation. [County of Tulare v. Nunes (2013) __ CA4th__]
Editor’s note – Nearly two years ago, first tuesday reported similar cases where two lower courts came to opposite conclusions on the issue of MMDs and zoning. However, as of May 2013, the California Supreme Court’s decision in City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, Inc. concluded local zoning trumps state law, at least when it comes to MMDs.