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CA Appeals Court: Medical Marijuana Not Protected by ADA Act

CA Appeals Court: Medical Marijuana Not Protected by ADA Act

Posted by Marijuana Doctors on 05/24/2012 in Medical Marijuana Laws

Cities in California are not violating the Americans With Disabilities Act when they crack down on medical marijuana dispensaries, says a federal appellate court that had a case brought up by disabled California residents.

The lawsuit was dubbed Marla James vs. the City of Costa Mesa, and was brought up by severely disabled plaintiffs who said conventional opiate medications did not work and had not even slightly alleviated the pain they experienced due to their impairments. The claim brought through the United States Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on May 21st.

The plaintiffs obtain medical marijuana, permitted under state law with proposition 215, through collectives, resource centers and dispensaries within the Costa Mesa and Lake Forest cities. However, these cities have taken steps closer and closer to close marijuana-dispensing facilities that operate within the cities’ boundaries. The plaintiffs of the case charge the cities’ actions violate Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination in any way, shape or form in providing public services to those in need.

In the end, the court disagreed with the plaintiffs that their medical marijuana use falls within the ADA’s exception for drug use that is supervised by a licensed health care professional. In “light of the text, the legislative history, including related congressional activity, and the relationships between the ADA and the Federal Controlled Substances Act, we agree wit both the district courts that have considered the question, as well as the United States as amicus curiae, in concluding that the doctor-supervised marijuana use is an illegal use of drugs not cover by the ADA’s supervised use exception,” said the ruling.

A partner with a law firm known as Shaw Valenza L.L.P., D. Gregory Valenza, had commented on the issue involving the courts, saying that if it had ruled otherwise then it would not have been a big jump to apply it to Title I of the ADA, which is the employment section. Valenza said, “The case doesn’t change things for employers, but it does strike a blow against the expansion of medical marijuana rights”.

Past court rulings involving medical marijuana have generally held that employers are under no obligation to accommodate any medical marijuana users, even though despite the state laws that permit physicians to recommend it. So far, seventeen states plus the District of Columbia have laws that permit the use of medicinal marijuana. 

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