August 23, 2012

All dressed up . . .

You’ve got a big case in the Supreme Court. All the parties’ briefs have been filed. So have seven amicus curiae briefs. Now you just sit back and wait for that oral argument notice to come in. Or not.

In Pack v. Superior Court, the Supreme Court yesterday decided the conditions weren’t right to hear the case and dismissed review. According to the court’s dismissal order, the Court of Appeal’s decision presented the sole issue whether a Long Beach ordinance, “imposing a regulatory permit scheme for the lawful operation of medical marijuana collectives in the city, was preempted by the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).” (The Court of Appeal held it was.) But, the Supreme Court continued, the parties who had successfully asserted federal preemption in the Court of Appeal have “now abandoned their federal preemption argument in favor of unrelated issues not raised or decided at any prior stage of this proceeding.” What’s more, after the court granted review, Long Beach repealed the ordinance at issue and enacted another that basically “imposes a complete and immediate ban on medical marijuana collectives within the city.” The court thus concluded that the legal validity of the first ordinance was moot and the legal validity of the new ordinance “has not been considered at any prior stage of this proceeding, and is not ripe for review by this court.”

This isn’t the first time the court has dismissed review in a marijuana preemption case. There’s still one such case pending, all briefed and ready to go, but counsel in that matter might not want to get too far into their oral argument preparations just yet.

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