In the ongoing war over medical marijuana, and the legal gray area in which it now sits in the state and several others, California advocates may be looking at one losing battle in a case currently before the CA Supreme Court. The court heard oral arguments yesterday in the case of Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center vs. The City of Riverside, a case that will decide, at least for the time being, whether cities should have the right to ban medical marijuana dispensaries altogether, even if the state allows them.

Legal experts have already suggested that the CA Supreme Court justices "lean federalist," meaning they tend to empower municipalities over the state. And questioning by the justices suggested that they had already basically decided that the legislature never intended to prevent cities from banning something they did not want. Cities, as Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye point out, have broad powers as far as land-use authority, and state laws like the medical marijuana "safe access" law do not override these.

The East Bay Express describes the pot club's counsel, David Nick, as "zealous but legally unimpressive," and the opposing counsel, representing Riverside, seemed to have this in the bag. He apparently misquoted previous legal precedent, and generally failed to make essential points about what safe access should mean for, say, cancer patients who might have to travel hundreds of miles to find a sanctioned dispensary, or farm the weed themselves, or seek illegal sources.