A California organization that supports medical marijuana said Wednesday it will ask the state Supreme Court to consider Live Oak's medical pot ban.
"If you ban dispensaries and you ban cultivation, you're ripping the heart out of California's medical marijuana laws," said San Francisco attorney Joe Elford, who will represent Live Oak resident James Maral and California NORML. "This decision conflicts with the intent of the electorate and Legislature and should not be allowed to stand."
NORML is National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
The 3rd District Court of Appeals last month upheld the city's ban on medical marijuana cultivation.
"Cities and counties have long enjoyed the police power to regulate zoning and land use," Live Oak City Attorney Brant Bordsen said Wednesday. "These are traditional powers that are longstanding and long recognized."
Proposition 215, which allowed for medical marijuana use, "created a limited criminal defense," he said, but did not abolish "those police powers."
The appeals court said state law and previous court decisions "do not pre-empt a city's police power to prohibit the cultivation of all marijuana within that city."
Dale Gieringer, Proposition 215 co-author and California NORML director, said in a statement: "The right of patients to grow their own medicine is fundamental to Prop. 215's stated purpose of ensuring that 'seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes.'"
Live Oak "has no legitimate business prohibiting Mr. Maral from growing the medicine he needs at his own private residence," Gieringer said.
Live Oak's medical pot ban took effect in January 2012.
The only other known jurisdiction in California banning all medical marijuana cultivation is Tracy, according to California NORML.
Selma rolled back its cultivation ban on in October, voting to allow permitted, indoor gardens, the group said.
Maral, 42, suffers from compartment syndrome, a painful life- and limb-threatening condition caused by insufficient blood supply to muscles and nerves. In addition, he has six damaged discs in his back, the result of his work as a heavy equipment driver. He and his family have lived in Live Oak for 15 years.
Maral is also a caretaker for his mother, Donneda Maral, who has severe diverticulitis and Crohn's disease, for which she is frequently hospitalized.
"The only thing I'm fighting for is the patients who just want a couple of plants in their backyard," James Maral said in a statement. "I'm not willing to let my mother die or live out the rest of her time in a hospital."
The Marals live at least two hours away from any medical marijuana dispensary.
Diverticulitis happens when pouches form in the wall of the colon. If the pouches become inflamed or infected, they can be painful. Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract.
CONTACT reporter Harold Kruger at 749-4774.
Case has ‘statewide implication’
The 3rd District Court of Appeals decision in the Live Oak case was published, meaning it can be used as a precedent in future cases.
"It has statewide implication right now," Live Oak City Attorney Brant Bordsen said.
A request was filed last week with the Supreme Court to have the Live Oak decision depublished. The request came from Kimberly Olson of Yreka.
Bordsen opposed the request in a filing this week.
The state Supreme Court's website said Olson's request was premature because the appeals court decision isn't final.
"I'd rather be premature than a day late and a dollar short," Bordsen said of his response.