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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

ADA Does Not Protect Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

The Americans with Disabilities Act does not preclude municipalities from shutting down medical marijuana dispensaries, according to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  In  James v. City of Costa Mesa, the Court dismissed a lawsuit brought by four California individuals with severe disabilities who have medical marijuana prescriptions. 

The plaintiffs had obtained medical marijuana through facilities located in Costa Mesa and Lake Forest, California.  However, the cities had recently taken steps to close marijuana dispensing facilities operating within their boundaries.  Costa Mesa adopted an ordinance excluding medical marijuana dispensaries completely in 2005.  Lake Forest, brought public nuisance actions in state court seeking to close medical marijuana facilities operating within city limits. 

Although the Court sympathized with the disabled plaintiffs, the Court determined that that Congress has made it clear that the ADA defines “illegal drug use” by reference to federal, rather than state, law, and federal law does not authorize the plaintiffs’ medical marijuana use.  Consequently, the Court concluded that the plaintiffs’ medical marijuana use is not protected by the ADA.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink.

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