By Gene Davis, DENVER DAILY NEWS
Medical marijuana advocates scored a big victory after a judge Wednesday ruled that the City of Centennial is prohibited from banning medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within its city limits.
The oral ruling by Arapahoe County District Judge Christopher Cross followed a passionate hearing that spanned two days. Experts believe the ruling is a landmark case that could set a precedent preventing other Colorado municipalities from banning medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits.
“It’s a victory for patients and caregivers across the state of Colorado,” said Bob Hoban, a lawyer who represented the Centennial medical marijuana dispensary in the case. “And it’s clearly a victory for the constitution in that it shows that local governments can’t pick and choose which constitutional provisions they want to follow.”
In October the City of Centennial revoked the business license of CannaMart after learning that the business was a medical marijuana dispensary. In turn, two caregivers and three patients from the dispensary sued the city in hopes of having the decision overturned.
Wednesday’s oral ruling by Cross implemented an injunction against the cease and desist letter that the City of Centennial issued to CannaMart. In turn, CannaMart can open up for business again, at least for now. A broader trial on the issue could start as early as 60 days from now, according to Hoban.
In his ruling, Cross said that Centennial can zone dispensaries, but can’t forbid them from operating within city limits.
In 2000, Colorado voters approved medical marijuana to treat serious illnesses. Marijuana is still considered illegal under federal law.
Attorneys for the City of Centennial argued during the hearing that the city could ban dispensaries because they violate federal law. However, Cross said that the Colorado constitution allows the use of medical marijuana, and that the state constitution is there for a reason, according to Hoban.
“It would be an affront to the citizens of Colorado if they couldn’t rely on their constitution,” said Hoban.
Medical marijuana user and CannaMart patient Shannon Mosher cheered Wednesday’s ruling as a victory for sick patients in Colorado. Although CannaMart was only open several weeks, Mosher, who suffers from ankylosing spondylitis, said he had already started feeling at home at the location.
“I feel very reassured that among all the other things I’ve lost already from my disability, thatÉone thing I won’t lose is my constitutional right,” he said. “I’m really excited about winning this particular battle.”
Mosher uses medical marijuana to treat the chronic pain that derives from a genetic disease that breaks down tissue and infuses it with bone. He said that the CannaMart owners went out of their way to discount the marijuana for him, picked him up when he needed a ride, and kept track of his symptoms.
“These guys were very compassionate and took extra time to learn about my disease,” he said.
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters