California’s New Pot Laws Challenged in Court

California’s new cannabis regulations violate the state constitution, according to a lawsuit filed by the owner of a local collective.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a trio of bills earlier this month that establish a marijuana bureaucracy. The bipartisan legislative package creates a complex system of licensing and testing and governs everything from seed to sale.

Dave Armstrong, however, argues that the just-passed Medical Marijuana Regulations and Safety Act violates the California Constitution. In a lawsuit filed last week in Santa Clara County Superior Court, the MediMarts operator claims that the law amends a voter initiative—Prop. 215, called the 1996 Compassionate Use Act—without voter approval.

“The state cannot take this away from the people and make it the ‘Cash In On Our Use Act,’” said Armstrong, who's represented by attorney Nicholas Emanuel. “When did ‘compassion’ turn into ‘compensation?’”

Armstrong takes issue with the state-set limits on how much marijuana a patient or caregiver can grow. New restrictions on how many patients a doctor can see also conflict with the two-decade-old voter initiative and infringe on the rights of patients, according to the lawsuit.

Regardless of what the state passes, it all flouts federal law, the complaint continues. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency still classifies the plant as a Schedule I drug, which makes it illegal for clinical or personal use.

“It’s a sad truth in this matter when one arm of the state tells you one thing and the other supports unlawful business activities,” said Armstrong, who has also sued the city of San Jose over local marijuana regulations.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), one of the lead authors of California's new pot regulations, said he's confident the legislation will stand up to the challenge.

"The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act was the product of thousands of hours of extensive drafting and was strictly vetted by the attorneys for the Legislature," he said. "I am confident that the act will withstand judicial review."

The American Medical Marijuana Association (AMMA), a patient and caregiver advocacy group, plans to file a similar complaint alleging that the state Legislature is trying to override a voter initiative.

Under incipient state rule, patients’ gardens will be limited to 100 square feet, regular family doctors must issue recommendations and local governments can continue to ban cannabis cultivation, storage, manufacture and transport. All those provisions go against Prop. 215, AMMA claims.

“Our medical cannabis rights … have been hijacked,” AMMA director Steve Kubby said in a statement. “Prop. 215 is under attack like never before.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. At last the Lib’s get a taste of there own medicine, pun intended !
    Maybe they should pass there own second amendment.

    A well regulated pot farm being necessary for a freely altered state,
    The state of the people shall not be infringed.

    Our rights keep getting into the government way.
    The Constitution and the Bill of Rights have been trampled on by both party’s and both the state and Federal Governments.

    Stop electing incumbent politicians, call for term limits.
    Welcome to the radical tea party!

    • We need another civil war to take the country back to the people and stop the money hungry whores in the white house.

  2. It is absolutely clear from data collected by the Center for Disease Control that cannabis is far safer than alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical drugs which are well known serial killers responsible for over 650,000 deaths every single year here in the United States. Cannabis therefore should never be subjected to any regulations more stringent than those placed on producers of alcoholit products, tobacco and pharmaceuticals. It just makes logical sense, the safer the substance the less we have to regulated or worry about it.

    • > Cannabis therefore should never be subjected to any regulations more stringent than those placed on producers of alcoholit products, tobacco and pharmaceuticals.


      Cannabis SHOULD be regulated by the FDA.

      So where are the science based clinical trials and MILLIONS of pages of submissions to the FDA to support regulatory approval?

      So far, all we ever get is mumbling, vacant Santa Cruz hippies opining that they have smoked pot for forty years and it hasn’t affected their brains one bit.

      Who would you like in the pilot’s seat of your next trip to LA? A guy who’s passed a clean drug test or Cheech Marin?

      • Don’t encourage the lunatic Santa Cruz computer repair man (aka Freedom Fighter) as he’ll simply claim that since it’s never been proven a plane has never crashed due a pilot being stoned it therefore is completely safe to do so.

  3. All I can tell you Dave is you hired the wrong attorneys to fight your battle. All they are good at is milking clients. You’ll see …..

  4. As a real patient who had colon reconstruction surgery it was no joke how much cannabis helped me .. I was able to sit up and open my eyes and talk and eat .. after one month in the hospital and 6 months in bed w pills that did not work one joint got me to the point were I could sit up, open my eyes and speak again. this is no joke .. I would prob still be bedridden if it wasn’t for cannabis. I is real medicine please google cannabis kills cancer cells .. thank you

    • Dear Miss Smith,
      I have no problem with it’s used as a proper prescription from a clean regulated manufacturer, from a real pharmacy.
      If your smoking it, be aware that it’s just as carcinogenic as a real cigarette.
      It may make you feel better but it’s not doing your guts any favors.
      Make sure your not buying the moldy stuff ether!

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