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City attorney wants to keep medical pot regulation local

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The city of Long Beach is petitioning to overturn a decision by the Court of Appeal last October that found city’s law permitting dispensaries invalid and preempted by federal law. - REUTERS FILE PHOTO
  • Reuters File Photo
  • The city of Long Beach is petitioning to overturn a decision by the Court of Appeal last October that found city’s law permitting dispensaries invalid and preempted by federal law.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office asked the California Supreme Court Monday to overturn a lower court’s ruling last year that could potentially threaten the permitting of medical marijuana dispensaries throughout the state.

The city of Long Beach is petitioning to overturn a decision by the Court of Appeal last October that found city’s law permitting dispensaries invalid and preempted by federal law.

That precedent effectively halted local permitting of dispensaries throughout the state, including in San Francisco, until the California Supreme Court agreed to take up the case, Herrera said.

San Francisco joined Santa Cruz County on Monday in a brief to the court also opposing that decision.

Herrera’s office said in a news release that the “potentially landmark case” threatens California’s Compassionate Use Act enacted in 1996 to ensure the availability of marijuana to medical patients.

“San Francisco’s model regulatory system has for many years carefully balanced the needs of patients and caregivers with neighborhood concerns over health and safety,” Herrera said. “Our ordinance works. But an unworkable interpretation of federal law, which would undercut local regulation, serves no public interest — not for patients, not for neighbors.”

The Supreme Court has not yet scheduled a date to hear the case, Herrera’s office said.

aburack@sfexaminer.com