Although the federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits the use, possession, manufacture, and sale of marijuana for all purposes, numerous states have loosened their own marijuana laws. For example, California’s Proposition 215 (the “Compassionate Use Act of 1996”) and its legislatively-adopted “Medical Marijuana Program” have removed certain state law obstacles from the ability of qualified patients to obtain and use marijuana for legitimate “medical” purposes. Among other things, these laws exempt the “collective[ ] or cooperative[ ] cultiva[tion]” of medical marijuana by qualified patients and their designated caregivers from prosecution or abatement under specified state criminal and nuisance laws that would otherwise prohibit such activities.
An ongoing torrent of cases have tested the scope of those state laws in the land use context. The resulting decisions have consistently underscored our long-held understanding that land use regulation in California has historically been a function of local government.