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California Supreme Court to Hear Marijuana Related Zoning/CEQA Case

The California Supreme Court has granted review in Union of Medical Marijuana Patients, Inc. v. City of San Diego, a case that will impact how all developers and owners of all types of projects should approach projects that involve new or changed zoning ordinances, particularly those that concentrate or shift property uses within a jurisdiction. The decision is expected to provide guidance on whether proposed new or changed zoning ordinances must first undergo California Environmental Quality Act review. The case also addresses the CEQA review of zoning activities that California municipalities are increasingly undertaking to regulate marijuana establishments after the passage of Proposition 64.

The case focuses on two primary questions raised by Petitioners:

  • Is an amendment of a zoning ordinance categorically a “project” subject to CEQA, or in the alternative, should local governments determine CEQA applicability by examining each zoning ordinance on a case-by-case basis to determine whether it is reasonably foreseeable that the ordinance may cause a change to the environment?
  • Is the enactment of a law allowing the operation of medical marijuana cooperatives in certain areas of a local agency’s jurisdiction categorically not subject to CEQA review?

Land Use and Environmental Law attorney Edward Grutzmacher published an article in Western Real Estate Business magazine that examines the issues before the Court and the potential impact on developers, owners and public agencies. Please click here to read his analysis of this case.