Medical Marijuana Not Protected by Americans With Disabilities Act, Ninth Circuit Court Rules
Gravely ill and severely disabled?
Real sorry about that, but you should still be thrown in jail for using marijuana, says a ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Image: stanfordlawyer.law.stanford.edu Justice Raymond C. Fisher of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says the Americans With Disabilities Act provides no protection for medical-marijuana patients.
Yesterday's ruling came in a California case that pitted disabled people against the wishes of city leaders who don't like medical-marijuana dispensaries.
Costa Mesa and Lake Forest took steps to close the pot shops a few years ago, angering patients and activists who believe California law -- and the federal ADA -- prohibits such actions.
Not so, says the Ninth. But in their written opinion, justices seem to sympathize with the plaintiffs.
"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," Circuit Court Judge Raymond C. Fisher wrote in the opinion. "We also acknowledge that California has embraced marijuana as an effective treatment for individuals like the plaintiffs who face debilitating pain."
Despite the fact that these dying and suffering people just want to relieve their pain under a state law that acknowledges marijuana works for them, marijuana is illegal under federal law, period. And that's that.
The "against federal law" excuse runs counter to the wishes of sick people, voters and Americans who simply don't believe marijuana possession should be a crime, (remember the 42 percent of Californians who voted for outright legalization in 2010?), but that refrain will continue to be heard in the court system until Congress addresses the conflict.
The federal prohibition against marijuana has affected many major cases, including the chilling reproach of medical marijuana in the infamous Raich vs. Gonzales case, in which the courts told a severely ill man he couldn't grow pot on his own property for his own use because having such rights would provide a loophole in the law. Earlier this month, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael McVey ruled that a $500,000 loan by an Arizona couple to a Colorado dispensary didn't have to be paid back because marijuana is against federal law.
The Ninth Circuit recognizes, however, "that the federal government's views on
the wisdom of restricting medical marijuana use may be evolving... But for now Congress has determined that, for purposes of federal law, marijuana is unacceptable for medical use."
Thanks to Dr. Congress, those severely ill patients will simply have to go back to swallowing fistfuls of opiate-based pills, even though they say those don't work as well as pot.
Read the Ninth Circuit Court's opinion on the ADA and medical marijuana here.