Urgent Care Medical Services v. City of Pasadena

Facts: Several medical marijuana dispensaries operate in a city. The city’s municipal code contains a permissive zoning scheme stating land uses not listed in the city’s zoning scheme are prohibited and therefore a nuisance.

Claim: The city seeks to close the medical marijuana dispensaries, claiming they are prohibited since any land use not listed as permitted by the permissive zoning scheme is branded a nuisance.

Counterclaim: The owners of the dispensaries seek to continue operating, claiming medical marijuana dispensaries are not prohibited as a nuisance since the city’s permissive zoning scheme does not explicitly define a medical marijuana dispensary as a nuisance.

Holding: A California court of appeals holds the city may close the dispensaries since a permissive zoning scheme constitutes an explicit declaration of prohibited uses and is sufficient to establish medical marijuana dispensaries as a nuisance. [Urgent Care Medical Services v. City of Pasadena (March 5, 2018)_CA5th_]

Editor’s note — first tuesday has previously reported similar cases where two lower courts came to opposite conclusions on the same issue of medical marijuana dispensaries and zoning. The courts’ handling of this issue has been inconsistent across California, leaving unresolved the issue of whether local or state laws should take precedence in executing the will of the people.

Read the case text.