Sixteen states and the District of Columbia currently permit the medical use of marijuana, yet state statutes fail to account for the challenges that confront municipal planners and officials whose agenda includes public health, safety and welfare of residents, including minor children. The intensity of the problem is perhaps most evident in Los Angeles, where there are approximately 800 dispensaries. Varying statutory approaches are provided for individuals to legitimately acquire the drug - they may grow it themselves, they may obtain it from their primary caregiver, or they may obtain it from a licensed dispensary. This raises a number of land use regulatory questions including: whether state law preempts local zoning when it comes to growing, buying and using marijuana for medicinal purposes; whether distance requirements, similar to those used in the regulation of adult business uses, can be utilized to regulate the use of medical marijuana; and, what types of special use permit considerations may be appropriate for considering activities related to the use of medical marijuana. In addition, questions as to whether growing and sale of the drug may constitute a valid home occupation, and whether marijuana is or should be considered an agricultural crop, and if so, what impact this would have on the relationship between agricultural regulation/policy and zoning, suggest a growing number of legal unanswered land use law related questions in this emerging area. This article pulls together information about how the municipalities in the fourteen states with legalized medical marijuana are beginning to sort through and address the challenging land use issues that confront communities faced with the growing, sale and use of the drug.
16 Drake J. Agric. L. 295 (2011)
16 Drake J. Agric. L. 295