Impact of California high court medical cannabis ruling unclear for state’s businesses

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San Diego failed to adequately analyze the potential environmental impacts of its medical marijuana dispensary law, the California Supreme Court ruled in a decision that might limit the discretion of local governments across the state when approving cannabis stores.

The ruling came after San Diego declared its 2014 cannabis law didn’t require any environmental analysis.

The court ruled unanimously that the city should have studied whether allowing dispensaries might result in construction of new buildings or change citywide vehicle traffic patterns, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

The impact of the ruling on many of the city’s 23 approved dispensaries wasn’t immediately clear, according to the newspaper. The impact on other marijuana businesses in the state also is up in the air.

Local governments must analyze reasonably foreseeable changes that proposed laws or zoning changes would have on the environment – even if the changes would be indirect, according to the opinion.

City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office declined to comment on the 41-page ruling, which overturned a Fourth District Court of Appeal decision in 2016 that favored the city.

Lawyer Jamie Thomas Hall, who filed the lawsuit against San Diego, believes the ruling would force the two-thirds of California cities that don’t allow marijuana companies to conduct more rigorous environmental reviews if they eventually consider allowing such businesses.

To read the Supreme Court decision, click here.

– Associated Press