Lawsuit over medical marijuana dispensary closure in Centennial hits court Friday

Denver's attempts to get a handle on the medical marijuana issue, typified by yesterday's eventful safety committee hearing, show the importance of municipalities establishing clear rules of the road for such operations.

A repeat of this lesson may well be in the offing tomorrow in Arapahoe County Court. That's when a lawsuit filed on behalf of CannaMart, a dispensary that was shut down by Centennial despite it having a valid business license.

Centennial has forbidden dispensaries, but at a meeting on Monday, the city's council put in place a six-month moratorium on the businesses in case the ban doesn't hold up -- a move that's not supposed to be related to the CannaMart case, although that's tough to fathom.

As for Bob Hoban, one of CannaMart's attorneys, he said this to Westword late last month: "Ultimately, cities are free to place restrictions on where these businesses can operate. But a total ban is clearly in excess of the city's powers under home rule, the constitution and state law."

Read the CannaMart complaint here -- and look below for more about the hearing, courtesy of a release from the Cannabis Therapy Institute.

Arapahoe District Court to Hear Landmark Challenge to Municipal Medical Marijuana Bans Friday Afternoon

Centennial, Colo. -- A coalition of medical marijuana patients and caregivers will get their day in court Friday. At an afternoon hearing in Arapahoe County District Court, plaintiffs will argue that the City of Centennial violated their rights under the Colorado Constitution, as well as a series of land use statutes, by forcing a Centennial medical marijuana wellness center to close last month.

Three seriously-ill medical marijuana patients, together with their two caregivers, hope to reverse the City of Centennial's decision to force CannaMart to shut its doors October 19th. The city's mandate [came] just weeks after Centennial officials had approved CannaMart's business license. The case marks a first for Colorado as the inaugural challenge to a municipality's ability to impose land use restrictions that prohibit state-registered medical marijuana caregivers from dispensing medical marijuana within municipal boundaries.

Relying on well established Colorado case law, the plaintiffs' attorneys argue that home rule municipalities, including Centennial, are prohibited from imposing prohibitions against rights, including medical marijuana, protected under the state Constitution as "matters of statewide concern." Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2000, when a majority of voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing individuals suffering from debilitating medical conditions to legally consume and purchase marijuana. The amendment also legalized the sale, distribution, storage, transportation, production, and cultivation of the medicine by caregivers.

WHAT: Arapahoe County District Court Judge Christopher Cross to hear challenge to the City of Centennial's decision to shut down CannaMart.

WHEN: Friday, December 18, 2009, 1:30 p.m. Plaintiffs and their team of four attorneys, led by Bob Hoban and Robert J. Corry, Jr., will be available for comment before and after the hearing.

WHERE: Arapahoe County District Court, Courtroom 405, Judge Christopher Cross, 7325 S. Potomac St., Centennial, CO.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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