The Union of Medical Marijuana Patients has adopted an unusual tactic in the battle being waged for cannabis users. The organization is suing the California Coastal Commission and the city over regulations that restrict the placement of dispensaries within San Diego's city limits.
According to a report from Courthouse News Service, the Los Angeles–based organization accuses the city and Coastal Commission — which signed off on the city council–approved ordinance — of failing to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act by enacting a measure that "will create traffic and air pollution" and which "failed to analyze the reasonably foreseeable consequences of increased indoor cultivation of medical marijuana."
The plaintiff's argument is that by limiting the city to a maximum of 36 marijuana dispensaries spread evenly across nine council districts, patients will either be forced to drive further to obtain their medicine or will grow it at home. (The union also complains that tight restrictions on location, zoning, and proximity to other dispensaries cuts the actual number of locations down to 30.)
Both consequences of the regulations, the group says, are environmentally destructive. By keeping marijuana collectives out of the neighborhoods where patients live, additional vehicle miles will add to greenhouse-gas pollution. And if patients resort to setting up amateur indoor home gardens (an estimated one-third of pot is grown indoors under artificial light), it will lead to a spike in electricity and water use as well as biowaste production (unusable parts of the marijuana plant).
As an example, the union notes that an estimated 3 percent of all electricity use (and 9 percent of residential use) is dedicated to growing marijuana indoors, which "corresponds to greenhouse-gas emissions equal to those from 1 million cars."
They argue that it was "reasonably foreseeable" that indoor cultivation would increase as a result of patient's loss of easy access, and that such an event should have been considered in an environmental assessment report prior to the zoning regulation's adoption by the city or coastal commission. The plaintiffs are demanding that the plan's implementation be frozen until such a report is prepared.