Lawmakers about to pass path to legal residency and citizenship for residents without status

In the US congress today, it was announced that there has been a deal between lawmakers for a new immigration reform bill. the details have not been released as of yet, but it appears that the preliminary reports show that:

1. There is a path to legal permanent resident status and eventually citizenship.
2. The law will affect those persons who can show that they were present in the US prior to 2012.
3. A fee will be assessed as a penalty, and there will be a lengthy application form requiring a significant amount of evidence proving that the immigrant is in compliance with the law in all other aspects, including not being convicted of any major crimes.
Immigration Law Santa Rosa

Contact this office to discuss your case with an Attorney. We will be offering attorney services for a low flat rate to help with the application process.

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The Tragic Tale: TRAUDT v. CITY OF DANA POINT Summary and Issue

Can an individual bring suit against a local government in an attempt to keep a local Medical Marijuana dispensary open?

The unbelievably sad facts leading up to Melinda Traudt’s futile attempts to prevent a nearby dispensary from being shut down by the city are well detailed elsewhere.  The court in this case completely sidestepped the issue of  a patients right to access Medicinal Marijuana locally.  The entire decision by the appellate court was based on Standing, which is the legal concept where one must satisfy certain criteria to be able Patient rights and Medicinal Marijuana Lawto bring suit.  The court ruled that only owners of the collective have proper standing to bring a lawsuit seeking to, essentially, enforce the rights of Californians to obtain their prescribed Marijuana. Kind of a cop out by the court.

Hopefully, the reason the Supreme court has taken the Traudt case and underlying  issue under consideration is to impliment some standards of reason and consistency in keeping avenues of access open for Medicinal Marijuna Patients everywhere in California.

-Sean Ramsey, Attorney
February, 2012 

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Riverside v. Inland Empire Health: Summary of procedural history and comment

Summary of case history:

January 2009: City of Riverside sends Inland Empire Patients Health & Wellness center, a non-profit collaborative Medical Marijuana Dispensary (MMD) notice that City Zoning ordinance prohibits MMD’s

May 2010: City of riverside files suit against individuals associated with Inland Empire Center as well as the Center, the property owner and the property manager, stating that the Center is a public Medicinal Marijuana Lawnuisance and asking for a Preliminary Injunction that would prohibit the Center from operating.

November 2010: Trial court in Riverside county grants the motion for a preliminary injunction prohibing the Center from operating. The court held that Riverside could use zoning regulations to prohibit Medical Marijuana Dispensaries under City of Claremont v. Kruse.  Further, the court showed its unabashed hostility towards California Medical Marijuana Laws, stating that this was correct “especially given the conflict between state and federal law”.

November 2011: California court of appeals issued its ruling for City of Riverside. The court extensively examined the issue of preemption. The legal theory of Preemption in California is found in the California Constitution as follows:

Under article XI, section 7 (California Constitution), “[a] county or city may make and
enforce within its limits all local, police, sanitary, and other ordinances and regulations not in
conflict with general laws.” “`If otherwise valid local legislation conflicts with state law, it is
preempted by such law and is void.'”

In my humble opinion…

The court states that the Medical Marijuana Program Statutes (bill 420) only provides limited criminal immunity for the use, cultivation, and possession of medical marijuana and that because City of Riverside passed a civil ordinance, it doesn’t conflict with State medical Marijuana Law

In essence, the court holds that a local municipality can create a zoning  “ordinance”  banning medical marijuana dispensaries, essentially without giving a reason.  Then they can call dispensaries public nuisances on the SOLE fact that they are not in compliance with the local zoning law and shut them down.

Rather circular thinking, I think.


The theory of Nuisance has a specific legal definition:

“The two types of nuisance are private nuisance and public nuisance. A private nuisance is a civil wrong; it is the unreasonable, unwarranted, or unlawful use of one’s property in a manner that substantially interferes with the enjoyment or use of another individual’s property, without an actual Trespass or physical invasion to the land.  A public nuisance is a criminal wrong; it is an act or omission that obstructs, damages, or inconveniences the rights of the community.”

If a dispensary is operating in a responsible manner, and in compliance with California Law, I find it difficult to label them a “nuisance”, either public or private.  Both theories are based on some kind of harm being done to another.

As it stands right now,  local government can use circular logic, rather than specific behavior that a dispensary or all dispensaries are causing harm to anybody, and declare Medical Marijuana Dispensaries nuisances.

Hopeful outcome

It is my hope that the outcome of Riverside v. Inland Empire Health, if nothing else, will prompt the California legislature to add a provision to existing law that prevents local governments from outright banning Medical Marijuana Dispensaries.

-Sean Ramsey, AttorneyLow Cost divorce and Prop 215 law
January 2012

If you would like to discuss this issue with Mr. Ramsey,  submit your information below.

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Inland Empire Center is a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation established for the purpose of facilitating an MMD located in Riverside. Inland Empire Center’s MMD is a nonprofit collaborative association of patient members, who collectively cultivate medical marijuana and redistribute it to each other. Inland Empire Center has operated its MMD in Riverside since 2009.

Defendant Lanny Swerdlow (Swerdlow) is a registered nurse and manager of an adjacent, separate medical clinic, THCF Medical Clinic, unassociated with the MMD. Defendant William Joseph Sump II is an Inland Empire Center board member and general manager of Inland Empire Center’s Riverside MMD. Defendants Meneleo Carlos and Filomena Carlos (the Carloses) own the property upon which the MMD is located and lease the

[ 200 Cal.App.4th 892 ]

property to Swerdlow. Defendant Angel City West, Inc. (Angel), provides management services for the property.

In January 2009, Riverside’s Community Development Department planning division sent Swerdlow a letter stating that Riverside’s zoning code prohibits MMD’s in Riverside. In May 2010, Riverside filed a complaint against Angel, Swerdlow, Sump,4 the Carloses, East West Bancorp, Inc.,5 and THCF Health and Wellness Center,6 for injunctive relief to abate public nuisance. The complaint alleges Inland Empire Center’s MMD constitutes a public nuisance, in violation of Riverside’s zoning code, Riverside Municipal Code (RMC) section 6.15.020.Q. Riverside notified Swerdlow of the violation. Nevertheless, Swerdlow continues to operate the MMD.

Riverside’s complaint includes two causes of action, both alleging public nuisance, and prays for injunctive relief enjoining Inland Empire Center from operating its MMD in Riverside. Riverside alleges in the complaint that Inland Empire Center is located in a commercial zone. Under Riverside’s zoning code, MMD’s are prohibited. (RMC, §§ 19.150.020, 19.910.140.) Riverside’s zoning code further states that any use which is prohibited by state and/or federal law is strictly prohibited in Riverside. (RMC, § 19.150.020.) Any violation of Riverside’s municipal code is deemed a public nuisance under RMC sections 1.01.110 and 6.15.020.Q. Inland Empire Center’s MMD violates Riverside’s zoning code and is therefore a public nuisance subject to abatement.

Riverside filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, seeking to close Inland Empire Center’s MMD in Riverside. Riverside Police Detective Darren Woolley (Woolley) concluded in his supporting declaration that the medical clinic, “THCF Medical Clinic,” where Swerdlow worked as a nurse, was connected to Inland Empire Center’s MMD and referred patients to the MMD. Riverside requested the trial court to take judicial notice of various documents, including a report entitled, “California Police Chiefs Association’s Task Force On Marijuana Dispensaries” and a report by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, entitled, “Medical Marijuana: History and Current Complications.” Inland Empire Center objected to judicial notice of these documents. The court did not rule on the judicial notice request.

In support of Inland Empire Center’s opposition to Riverside’s motion for a preliminary injunction, Swerdlow states in his declaration that he managed the medical clinic Woolley claimed was associated with the MMP. According

[ 200 Cal.App.4th 893 ]

to Swerdlow, the medical clinic is not connected with the MMD. Woolley erroneously referred to Inland Empire Center’s MMD as the THCF Medical Clinic, which is at a different location nearby.

Inland Empire Center’s general manager, Sump, also provided a declaration supporting Inland Empire Center’s opposition, stating that Inland Empire Center had advised Riverside that it would be operating an MMD in Riverside. Sump further stated that Inland Empire Center had been lawfully operating its MMD and it did not constitute a nuisance to the surrounding community.

On November 24, 2010, the trial court heard Riverside’s motion for a preliminary injunction and granted the motion, concluding City of Claremont v. Kruse (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1153 [100 Cal.Rptr.3d 1] (Kruse) controlled and therefore Riverside could use zoning regulations to prohibit MMD’s, “especially given the conflict between state and federal law.” The trial court added it was not finding that federal law preempted state law in this instance. The court acknowledged there was case law holding that there was no federal law preemption. The trial court entered a written order enjoining Inland Empire Center from operating its MMD on the Carloses’ property.



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On November 15, 2009, G3 Holistic, a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation, began operating an MMD in Upland. On November 23, 2009, G3 Holistic applied for a business license. G3Holistic’s business license application and articles of incorporation disclosed G3 Holistic’sintent to operate an MMD in Upland. Upland did not issue G3 Holistic a business license.

On November 24, 2009, Upland Code Enforcement Officer Michael Ollis sent G3 Holistic a notice of violation, demanding that G3 Holistic stop operating its MMD business. Officer Ollis notified G3 Holistic that it was in violation of Upland Municipal Code (UMC) section 5.04.090 because G3 Holistic was operating without a business license. UMC section 5.04.090A provides that: “It is unlawful for any person to transact and carry on any business, trade, profession, calling or occupation in the city without first having procured a license from the city . . . or without complying with any and all applicable provisions of this title and the Upland Municipal Code.” The notice of violation also stated that, under UMC section 17.12.050E: “No medical marijuana dispensary . . . shall be permitted in any zone within the city.” Officer Ollis warned G3 Holistic that the notice of violation order might result in the issuance of a citation or other legal action by the city attorney’s office.

Between December 2009 and March 2010, Upland City Attorney William Curley discussed the notice of violation with G3 Holistic’s chief executive officer, Aaron Sandusky, and G3 Holistic’sattorney, Rajan Maline. Curley told Maline that Upland’s zoning provisions did not allow MMD’s as a permissible use in Upland and that G3 Holistic must cease its operations immediately. On March 8, 2010, Curley sent Maline a letter asking whether G3 Holistic would voluntarily close down its illegal MMD business in Upland. In response, Maline told Curley that G3Holistic believed its business was legal and would not close.

On March 15, 2010, plaintiffs filed a complaint against G3 Holistic and the property owner, Magna & Magna, for declaratory relief and a preliminary and permanent injunction to abate G3Holistic’s MMD as a public nuisance. The complaint alleged G3 Holistic was required to have a business license to transact business in Upland under UMC section 5.04.090A. Selling marijuana is not a permitted use in the highway commercial zone where G3 Holistic was located, under UMC chapter 17.74 and UMC section 17.12.130, and MMD’s are not permitted in any zone within Upland under UMC section 17.12.050E. Any use of real property contrary to Upland’s zoning code is unlawful and a public nuisance under UMC section 17.12.170. G3Holistic was conducting a business without a license and selling marijuana to the public. The property owner, Magna & Magna, was aware G3 Holistic was illegally conducting business on Magna & Magna’s property. Plaintiffs requested the court to enjoin G3 Holistic from conducting business in Upland without first obtaining a license. Plaintiffs also requested the court to enjoinG3 Holistic from selling marijuana and Magna & Magna from assisting G3 Holistic. In addition, plaintiffs requested the court to declare G3 Holistic’s MMD business a public nuisance per se.G3 Holistic answered the complaint.

In June 2010, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, seeking to shut down G3Holistic’s MMD. On August 13, 2010, the trial court heard the motion and issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting G3 Holistic from operating an MMD in Upland. G3 Holistic nevertheless continued operating its MMD until September 20, 2010, when G3 Holistic agreed to close.

In the meantime, on August 19, 2010, G3 Holistic filed a motion to vacate the preliminary injunction on the ground Qualified Patients Assn. v. City of Anaheim (2010) 187 Cal.App.4th 734 (Qualified), decided on August 18, 2010, undermined case law relied upon by the trial court in granting plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction (City of Corona v. Naulls (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 418[Fourth Dist., Div. Two] (Naulls); City of Claremont v. Kruse (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 1153 (Kruse)). The trial court heard and denied the motion to vacate, concluding Qualified was not dispositive and did not undermine case law relied upon by the court in granting the preliminary injunction.

After G3 Holistic finally closed down its MMD, the parties stipulated on September 17, 2010, that the preliminary injunction issued on August 13, 2010, would be deemed the permanent injunction for purposes of appellate review.

In October 2010, plaintiffs filed a motion for attorney fees and costs. On November 30, 2010, the court signed and filed a judgment of permanent injunction and awarded fees and costs to Upland in the amount of $5,000. Also on November 30, 2010, the trial court filed and signed an order awarding fees and costs in the amount of $5,000, incurred in connection with contempt proceedings to enforce the court’s September 13, 2010 order.

On March 25, 2011, this court issued an order denying G3 Holistic’s request that G3 Holistic’snotice of appeal, filed on January 3, 2011, be treated as incorporating G3 Holistic’s appeal from the order of contempt on September 13, 2010 and related award of attorney fees and costs. This court ordered the matter challenging fees and costs be treated as a petition for writ of certiorari and argued in G3 Holistic’s opening brief in this appeal.

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1. The City’s Ordinance


In 2010, the City adopted an ordinance (Long Beach Ord. No. 10-0007) intended to comprehensively regulate medical marijuana collectives within the City. The ordinance defines a collective as an association of four or more qualified patients and their primary caregivers who associate at a location within the City to collectively or cooperatively cultivate medical marijuana. (Long Beach Mun. Code, ch. 5.87, § 5.87.015, subd. J.)

The City’s ordinance not only restricts the location of medical marijuana collectives (Long Beach Mun. Code, ch. 5.87, § 5.87.040, subds. A, B & C), but also regulates their operation by means of a permit system (Long Beach Mun. Code, ch. 5.87, § 5.87.020). The City requires all collectives which seek to operate in the City, including those that were in operation at the time the ordinance was adopted,[15] to submit applications and a nonrefundable application fee. (Long Beach Mun. Code, ch. 5.87, § 5.87.030.) The City has set this fee at $14,742. The qualified applicants then participate in a lottery for a limited number of permits.[16] Only those medical marijuana collectives 1083*1083 which have been issued medical marijuana collective permits may operate in the City. (Long Beach Mun. Code, ch. 5.87, § 5.87.020.)

In order to obtain a permit, a collective must demonstrate its compliance, and assure its continued compliance, with certain requirements. (Long Beach Mun. Code, ch. 5.87, § 5.87.040.) These include the installation of sound insulation (id., subd. G), odor absorbing ventilation (id., subd. H), closed-circuit television monitoring[17] (§ 5.87.040, subd. I.), and centrally monitored fire and burglar alarm systems (id., subd. J). Collectives must also agree that representative samples of the medical marijuana they distribute will have been analyzed by an independent laboratory to ensure that it is free of pesticides and contaminants. (Id., subd. T.)

Once a permit has been issued, an “Annual Regulatory Permit Fee” is also imposed, based on the size of the collective. That fee is $10,000 for a collective with between four and 500 members, and increases with the size of the collective.

The permitted collective system is the exclusive means of collective cultivation of medical marijuana in Long Beach.[18] The ordinance provides that it is “unlawful for any person to cause, permit or engage in the cultivation, possession, distribution, exchange or giving away of marijuana for medical or nonmedical purposes except as provided in this chapter, and 1084*1084pursuant to any and all other applicable local and state law.”[19] (Long Beach Mun. Code, ch. 5.87, § 5.87.090, subd. A.) The ordinance further provides that no person shall be a member of more than one collective “fully permitted in accordance with this chapter.”[20] (Id., subd. N.) Violations of the ordinance are misdemeanors, as well as enjoinable nuisances per se. (Long Beach Mun. Code, ch. 5.87, § 5.87.100.)

The City set a timeline for its initial permit lottery. Applications were to be accepted between June 1 and June 18, 2010; the City was to review the applications for compliance from June 21 through September 16, 2010; the lottery would be held on September 20, 2010; and site inspections, public notice and a hearing process would occur between September 21, 2010, and December 15, 2010. However, the City indicated that any collective that did not comply with the ordinance must cease operations by August 29, 2010.


2. Plaintiffs’ Complaint and Request for Preliminary Injunction


Plaintiffs Ryan Pack and Anthony Gayle were members of medical marijuana collectives that were directed to cease operations by August 29, 2010, for noncompliance with the ordinance. On August 30, 2010, plaintiffs filed the instant action seeking declaratory relief that the ordinance is invalid as it is preempted by federal law. On September 14, 2010, plaintiffs filed a request for a preliminary injunction. By this time, the City had shut down the collectives of which plaintiffs were members. However, as the lottery had not yet been held, no collectives had been issued permits in accordance with the ordinance. The plaintiffs thus argued that they would be irreparably harmed by the continued enforcement of the ordinance, as there was no collective they could legally join in order to obtain their necessary medical marijuana. As to the probability of success, plaintiffs argued that the City’s ordinance went beyond decriminalization and instead permitted conduct prohibited by the federal CSA, and thus was preempted.


1085*1085 3. The City’s Opposition to the Preliminary Injunction Request


On September 24, 2010, the City opposed the request for preliminary injunction, arguing that the ordinance was not preempted because it did not affect those responsible for enforcing the federal CSA. The City also raised an unclean hands argument, briefly suggesting that plaintiffs could not complain of any harm because their collectives “opened up for business” in an “unpermitted illegal manner.”


4. The Trial Court’s Denial of the Request for Preliminary Injunction


After a hearing, the trial court denied the request for a preliminary injunction. Its order issued on November 2, 2010. The court ultimately declined to address the federal preemption argument, on the basis of unclean hands. The court rejected the unclean hands argument raised by the City; however, it concluded that plaintiffs could not be heard to argue that the City ordinance was preempted due to a conflict with federal law (the CSA), when plaintiffs sought this ruling so that they could continue to violate the very same federal law. The court stated, “It is hardly equitable for [p]laintiffs to ask the court to enforce a federal law that they themselves are indisputably violating.”[21]


5. The Plaintiffs’ Petition for Writ of Mandate


On November 15, 2010, plaintiffs filed the instant petition for writ of mandate, challenging the trial court’s denial of a preliminary injunction. We issued an order to show cause, seeking briefing on the federal preemption issue. We invited amicus curiae briefing from various entities on both sides of the issue, including other cities considering or enacting medical marijuana collective ordinances, the United States Attorneys for California districts, the ACLU, and organizations advocating the legalization of marijuana. We received amicus curiae briefing from (1) the City of Los Angeles; (2) the California State Association of Counties and League of California Cities; and (3) the ACLU, ACLU of Northern California, ACLU of Southern California, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, Drug Policy Alliance, and 1086*1086 Americans for Safe Access. Although the United States Attorneys declined to file amicus curiae briefs, we have taken judicial notice of letters and memoranda which illuminate the federal government’s position regarding the enforcement of the CSA with respect to medical marijuana collectives.


6. The Progress of the Lottery and Permitting System


As briefing proceeded in this case, the City’s permit lottery was conducted. According to a representation in the City’s respondent’s brief, the City received 43 applications, and the lottery resulted in 32 applications moving forward in the permit process. By the time briefing was closed, plaintiffs acknowledged that the permit process had resulted in a permit being issued for at least one collective, Herbal Solutions.[22]

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Traudt’s condition is tragic and presents perhaps the most compelling case imaginable for individual standing. She is blind and suffers from cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and acute cognitive delays. Her complaint reflects she lived life as a “smiling, happy girl” until she developed osteoporosis in her 20’s, which “devastated her body.” Her bones became “so brittle that her femur (the strongest bone in the body) broke and portions of her tailbone . . . disintegrated,” causing her “chronic and intolerable pain, far beyond anything she had previously experienced or can handle.” Her doctor prescribed pain medications to no avail, including OxyContin, which immediately caused her kidneys to “begin shutting down” and resulted in a high fever and her lungs filling with fluid, leading to pneumonia. Her breathing became very shallow and her physician recommended that her mother, Shelly White, “contact hospice to arrange for Malinda’s final hours. Shelly began planning her daughter’s funeral.”

As reflected in Traudt’s complaint, “[i]n a last-ditch effort to keep Malinda alive while managing her pain, Shelly and Malinda’s pain specialist agreed to try replacing Malinda’s pain medication with medical marijuana.” According to the complaint, “[a]lmost immediately, Malinda’s fever subsided, she stopped vomiting, and her suffering lessened. Within three days, she began to recover.” Traudt’s complaint identifies her as “a `last resort patient,’ one for whom traditional pain medications have completely failed.” Her condition “is irreversible,” “her health is declining,” and “[n]o medication, pharmaceutical or natural, can reverse that decline.” Nevertheless, “[t]hrough the continued use of medical marijuana, Malinda’s kidneys regained function, she became lucid, she was able to eat, and she began smiling again. Her pain became manageable and her quality of life improved significantly.”

Traudt’s mother has attempted to grow medical marijuana for her daughter’s needs, but “due to the elements, insects, disease, mold, and Shelly’s lack of experience, her efforts, thus far, have been unsuccessful.” Traudt lives with her mother in San Clemente, near its border with Dana Point. Choosing among six dispensaries operating in Dana Point at the time of Traudt’s complaint, “Shelly chose the Beach Cities Collective . . . in part because she could push Malinda there and back in her wheelchair, making it a fun outing.”

Traudt also obtains medical marijuana from a dispensary or dispensaries in Los Angeles County. Traudt herself cannot endure the trip because of her fragile health and increased pain when riding in her mother’s van for longer than 15-20 minutes. Nor can Traudt’s mother make the drive, since she “needs to be near Malinda constantly, to monitor her health and stand ready to use their Portable Suction Machine or other devices and techniques to manage the frequent problems that suddenly develop in Malinda’s precarious condition.” Accordingly, Traudt’s mother “never leaves Malinda for the approximately two hours required to drive to Los Angeles, obtain medicine, and return.”

On March 10, 2010, the City filed a nuisance abatement action seeking to shut down the Beach Cities Collective (Beach Cities). Approximately a week later, Traudt filed this action, alleging the City was “attempting to close all of the collectives in Dana Point,” including Beach Cities. As noted, Traudt premised her declaratory judgment action on claims of preemption under California medical marijuana law and that those state laws afforded her a right of access to medical marijuana through a dispensary. In a separate lawsuit, Traudt sought and was denied permission to intervene on behalf of Beach Cities as an additional party in the City’s nuisance abatement action against the dispensary. In the action presently before us in this appeal, the trial court granted the City’s demurrer to Traudt’s declaratory judgment complaint, and she now appeals entry of judgment in the City’s favor.

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California Supreme Court Marijuana Cases in 2012

Here is a summary of the pending cases to be heard By the CA Supreme Court.  There are four cases, and we will be giving extensive information on the issues to be decided in the coming months. Stay tuned, because as soon as the court announces the schedule for oral arguments, we will send out word.

  • City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patient’s Health & Wellness Center, Inc., S198638. (E052400; 200 Cal.App.4th 885; Riverside County Superior Court; RIC10009872.) Petition for review after the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in a civil action.
  • People v. G3 Holistic, Inc., S198395. (E051663; nonpublished opinion; San Bernardino County Superior Court; CIVRS1002649.) Petition for review after the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment in a civil action.
  • Pack v. Superior Court, S197169. (B228781; 199 Cal.App.4th 1070; Los Angeles County Superior Court; NC055010.) Petition for review after the Court of Appeal granted a petition for peremptory writ of mandate.
  • Traudt v. City of Dana Point, S197700. (G044130; 199 Cal.App.4th 886; Orange County Superior Court; 30-2010-00373287.) Petition for review after the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal in a civil action.

These cases present issues concerning preemption, under federal or state law, of local ordinances regulating or banning the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries and related activities, and standing to challenge such ordinances.

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