Disability Law

ADA Does Not Protect Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, 9th Circuit Says


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The Americans with Disabilities Act does not preclude cities from shutting down medical marijuana dispensaries, the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found yesterday.

The panel dismissed a lawsuit brought by four California individuals with severe disabilities, the Los Angeles Times reports, all of whom have medical marijuana prescriptions. The lawsuit involves shuttered dispensaries in Costa Mesa and Lake Forest, both of which are in Orange county.

“We recognize that the federal government’s views on the wisdom of restricting medical marijuana use may be evolving,” Judge Raymond C. Fisher wrote for the majority in James v. City of Costa Mesa. “But for now Congress has determined that, for purposes of federal law, marijuana is unacceptable for medical use.”

Judge Marsha S. Berzon wrote a partial dissent. She found that the ADA may be read to protect medical marijuana users. “At the same time,” she wrote, “it seems most likely that Congress did not intend the ADA to require the cities to permit marijuana dispensaries.”

Matthew Pappas, who represents the plaintiffs, told the Times that he intends to petition the court for an en banc review.

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