A pro-medical marijuana group and seven individuals challenging Yuba County's new cannabis cultivation ordinance will get their day in court following a judge's ruling.

Yuba County Superior Court Judge Benjamin Wirtshafter issued a ruling last month that mostly favored Yuba Patients Coalition and others filing a lawsuit against the county. It, in effect, rejected the county's bid to dismiss the suit outright and set the stage for a future hearing on the merits of the case.

A status conference on the suit is scheduled for Sept. 28, but a date has not yet been set for a full court hearing.

Local attorney Charnel James, representing Yuba Patients Coalition and the individuals, called the ruling a "victory" for those opposed to the ordinance.

"It allows us to establish the record," James said Monday. "We get to allow testimony on the record. We get to put in the public record all the hearings that were held before the Board of Supervisors."

James said the matter likely won't be heard in court before November or December. It also gives those filing the suit 30 days to file amended claims it admits are "insufficiently pled."

The ruling is the latest development in the debate over a move last spring by Yuba County supervisors to tighten up its ordinance on medical marijuana cultivation.

In addition to banning outdoor plants, the more restrictive regulations limit indoor plants to a dozen in a qualified accessory structure. The ordinance also requires growers to register and pay an annual fee to the county.

The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the ordinance and an urgency designation that eliminated the usual 30-day waiting period to take effect. It also maintains the ordinance is vague and that it discriminates against those who can't afford to comply with the requirements for accessory structures.

Wirtshafter's ruling came after an Aug. 13 court hearing to consider the county's challenge to the suit. It ruled in favor of the county in the constitutionality argument that local jurisdictions have control over medical marijuana growing restrictions.

But the ruling otherwise rejected the county's move to dismiss the action. It notes that "much of the defendants' (county) challenges address the merits of the underlying dispute, which is beyond the scope of a demurrer."

Wirtshafter's ruling also notes that "both parties have filed briefs well in excess of the page limits ..." and advises both sides to "comply with the California Rules of Court in future filings."

CONTACT Eric Vodden at 749-4769.

Recommended for you