On Tuesday, the Anaheim City Council voted unanimously to ban mobile medical marijuana dispensaries — what, in states without medical marijuana laws, would be known as a drug dealer selling weed from a car.

Medical reefer is shaping up to be an electoral fight on next year’s Anaheim municipal ballot. In May, the California Supreme Court ruled that municipalities have every right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. I agree with the court. Furthermore, the question of whether a city or county has the right to impose such a ban is totally separate from whether such bans are good public policy (which I think they are).

In any case, medical pot interests have formed a campaign committee called Anaheim Safe Access that presumably will seek to qualify a pro-medicinal reefer initiative on next year’s June or November ballot.

Since the state Supreme Court has given cities the green light, the Anaheim City Council simply acted on its long-standing position of banning medical marijuana dispensaries. Per the staff report from the item:

Not only do these mobile dispensaries pose the same problems and issues as storefront MMDs, but they have been associated with additional criminal activity targeting their unique method of operations. Delivery drivers, for example, are been reported in mainstream media as targets of armed robbers who seek cash and drugs. As a result, many of the drivers reportedly carry weapons or have armed guards as protection. There are numerous reported incidents of violent confrontations between delivery drivers and individuals targeting those drivers. Compared to “brick and mortar” MMDs which mainly operate in commercial areas and have known locations, there is thus the potential that violence related to these type of services may intrude (with little ability of law enforcement to monitor such activity) into residential neighborhoods where deliveries occur.

In summary, the evidence indicates that i) at least some of the shuttered storefront MMDs in Anaheim will likely convert to a mobile delivery model in order to circumvent the City’s ban on brick and mortar dispensaries, and ii) there are already a significant number of marijuana delivery services offering deliveries to Anaheim residents. The proliferation of these mobile dispensaries will not only pose the same health and safety risks as storefront dispensaries, but will present additional risks caused by the mobile nature of their business model. Accordingly, the City Attorney’s Office is of the opinion that the immediate adoption of an ordinance banning mobile medical
marijuana dispensaries is necessary to preserve the public peace, health and safety. Section 511 of the City Charter permits the City Council to adopt this ordinance as an urgency measure to become effective immediately for and based on the reasons set forth in the attached ordinance.

Liberals and libertarians tend to see medical marijuana as a bright-line freedom issue. Most people (myself included) do not share that view, and recognize the negative societal and moral impacts of drug use, which liberals and libertarians seem to think will magically go “poof” is marijuana is legalized.