9th Circuit Court Rules MMJ Not Protected By Americans with Disabilities Act
Costa Mesa and Lake Forest, California have been trying to ban medical marijuana dispensaries for several years and today the 9th Circuit court agreed with the cities, saying that medical marijuana use wasn’t protected by the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Several patients had filed suit in federal court trying to overturn the bans, seeking relief from the government under the ADA. "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," Judge Raymond Fisher wrote for the majority. "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."
In other words, marijuana’s illegality under the federal Controlled Substances Act means there is really nothing patients can do to protect themselves, from the feds or even from their own city. Which means the battle over federal marijuana policy continues. Until federal laws are changed, there is nothing a state can really do to allow medical cannabis.
There was one small ray of hope in the 9th Circuit’s decision as Judge Marsha Berzon dissented from their opinion, saying, "Looking at the language of § 12210(d)(1) alone, I would come out where the majority does - concluding that the statute is ambiguous," she wrote. "But unlike the majority, I would not declare a near-draw. Instead, looking at the words alone, I would conclude that the plaintiffs have much the better reading, but not by enough to be comfortable that their interpretation is surely correct. Turning then to the legislative history, I would again declare the plaintiffs the winner, this time sufficiently, when combined with the language considerations, to adopt their interpretation, absent some very good reason otherwise. And I am decidedly not convinced that the majority's facile 'trump' via the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) works, because, among other reasons, the supposed tension relied upon does not exist."
Small hope indeed as the onslaught against medical marijuana continues on all government levels across the country.
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