Disabled Californians Have No Right to Smoke Weed, Federal Court Rules

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This isn't exactly surprising, seeing as how marijuana remains illegal under federal law despite having been legalized for medicinal purposes in more than 15 states. But yesterday,a three-judge panel with of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against the cities of Costa Mesa and Lake Forest by several disabled Orange County residents, including Marla James, the wheelchair-bound president of the OC chapter of Americans For Safe Access

The lawsuit was filed against the two cities, which have banned pot dispensaries and cracked down on cannabis clubs, by Matthew Pappas, who also represents several Long Beach dispensaries that are locked in a battle with the city over its controversial medical marijuana ordinance. It argued that the cities were violating the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying them access to their medicine. However, the ruling essentially argued that ADA didn't protect the patients from using a drug that remains illegal under federal law.

"We recognize that the plaintiffs are gravely ill, and that their request for ADA relief implicates not only their right to live comfortably, but also their basic human dignity," the ruling states. "We also acknowledge that California has embraced marijuana as an effective treatment for individuals like the plaintiffs who face debilitating pain. Congress has made clear, however, 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. We therefore necessarily conclude that the plaintiffs medical marijuana use is not protected by the ADA."

Both James and Pappas say they will appeal the ruling. 



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