Press Releases Feb 19, 2014

BB&K Attorney Receives Prestigious CLAY Award

Jeffrey Dunn Honored for State Supreme Court Victory in Riverside Medical Marijuana Dispensary Case

For Immediate Release: Feb. 19, 2014
Media Contact: Denise Nix • 213-787-2552 • 
denise.nix@bbklaw.com

IRVINE, Calif. – Jeffrey V. Dunn, an attorney at Best Best & Krieger LLP, was honored with one of the state’s most prestigious legal awards for successfully arguing before the state Supreme Court that local governments have the right to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

Dunn, a partner in the firm’s Irvine office, was honored in the municipal law category of the California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year awards, known as the CLAY awards, California Lawyer magazine announced today.

The CLAY awards recognize those attorneys around the state whose work has had a profound, far-reaching impact, according to the magazine. The 57 attorneys honored by the magazine for accomplishments in 2013 changed law, broke new ground in various practice areas and business sectors, and substantially influenced public policy.

Dunn and the other CLAY recipients will be honored March 11 in San Francisco, where California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will hand out the awards.

“We are very proud of Jeff and his work in this important area of public law that gave local governments guidance on a very pressing issue,” said Eric Garner, BB&K managing partner.

Widespread uncertainty about whether California’s cities and counties could regulate medical marijuana dispensaries was sparked when the state’s voters approved the Compassionate Use Act in 1996.

Dunn, in the closely watched case of City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, argued a year ago before the state’s highest court that state law does not preempt local governments from regulating the use of its land. At the time, some 200 local governments across California had bans against medical marijuana dispensaries.

The court agreed with Dunn’s argument in a ruling issued last May 6, finding there is no state law preemption or limitation on municipal zoning authority to regulate marijuana dispensaries. The court’s ruling allowed cities and counties to decide for themselves how to best regulate marijuana dispensaries and collectives.

“I am honored by the award and the recognition of this important case,” Dunn said. “It had a significant public impact because cities can act in the best interest of their community to limit and/or ban businesses that may cause public safety issues.”

In addition, Dunn said, the ruling is likely to have far-reaching benefits for California cities and counties, leaving significant leeway to enact local safety and zoning ordinances in a broad range of areas.

Dunn is the third BB&K attorney to receive a CLAY award. Garner received a CLAY award in 2006 for helping to resolve a dispute among hundreds of farmers, ranchers and urban dwellers for the rights to the groundwater in the Santa Maria area, north of Santa Barbara. Greg Wilkinson was given a “Legal Eagle” award, a predecessor of the CLAY award, in 1996 for successfully arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court that resource users facing negative impacts because of protections stemming from the Endangered Species Act have standing to sue.

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Best Best & Krieger LLP is a national law firm that focuses on environmental, business, education, municipal and telecommunications law for public agency and private clients. With 200 attorneys, the law firm has nine offices nationwide, including Indian Wells, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.bbklaw.com or follow @BBKlaw on Twitter.

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