Pubdate: Tue, 27 Apr 2010
Source: Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Daily Pilot
Author: Mona Shadia
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - U.S.)


He Said Americans With Disabilities Act Argument Is Enough for Him to 
Consider the Lawsuit.

Following an earlier decision to tentatively dismiss a federal 
lawsuit challenging Costa Mesa and Lake Forest's bans on medical 
marijuana dispensaries, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford 
announced Monday that he will rule in the case.

Matthew Pappas, the attorney representing the plaintiffs -- four 
disabled Orange County residents who use marijuana to treat various 
illnesses -- said he expects to learn of the decision today.

The lawsuit was filed by Marla James, Wayne Washington, James 
Armantrout and Charles Daniel DeJong under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The plaintiffs assert that by banning dispensaries Costa Mesa and 
Lake Forest are blocking patients from getting access to what they 
consider medication -- an alleged violation of the ADA.

Pappas argued that both cities should allow medical marijuana 
dispensaries to operate based on a 2009 congressional decision to 
lift restrictions on medical marijuana in Washington, D.C.

Congress lifted a 1998 rule that banned marijuana dispensaries from 
operating, Pappas said. Last week, the Washington City Council upheld 
Congress' findings and is allowing dispensaries to operate, he said.

"Under the equal protection provisions of the 5th Amendment, the U.S. 
Constitution gives that same right to everyone," he said in an 
interview following a preliminary hearing Tuesday at the federal 
courthouse for the Central District of California in Santa Ana. "That 
right should apply to people here in California."

Attorney James Touchstone of the firm of Jones & Mayer, who is 
representing Costa Mesa, argued that previous cases with similar 
complaints were denied based on the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling, 
which does not recognize medicinal marijuana.

"Illegal use of drugs disqualifies people from protection under the 
ADA," Touchstone argued.

Guilford said that Pappas' argument was enough to get him to consider 
the lawsuit.

Costa Mesa does not allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate 
within its jurisdiction, despite a state proposition that permits 
those with serious ailments to use the drug.

Since February, the city has been enforcing its 2005 law by issuing 
cease-and-desist orders to some dispensaries, and making arrests for 
possessions and distributions in some cases.

The plaintiffs are asking that the court order Costa Mesa and Lake 
Forest to stop going after dispensaries for those protected under the 
ADA, penalize them for violating the act, and pay attorneys' fees. 
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