Pubdate: Tue, 22 May 2012
Source: Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Daily Pilot
Author: Lauren Williams


Jones & Mayer attorney says decision vindicates what they have been 
fighting for on behalf of Costa Mesa.

A federal appeals court decided Monday that cities do not violate the 
federal rights of the disabled when they shut down medical marijuana 
dispensaries - a ruling praised by Costa Mesa's legal counsel.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld 
the dismissal of a lawsuit by severely disabled Californians who were 
authorized by their physicians to use marijuana for medical purposes.

The patients sued the cities of Costa Mesa and Lake Forest, charging 
that the cities' attempts to close dispensaries violated the federal 
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination.

But the 9th Circuit said the law does not protect the use of drugs 
banned by the federal government.

"We recognize that the plaintiffs are gravely ill," Judge Raymond C. 
Fisher, a Clinton appointee, wrote for the court.

Huntington Beach resident Marla James is one plaintiff on the lawsuit 
and is wheelchair bound and legally blind. She said she is restricted 
from growing her own marijuana because of her disabilities.

"Growing marijuana, even though it's a weed, is not an easy task," 
said James, who is the director of Orange County chapter of Americans 
for Safe Access.

James had one of her legs amputated after a bout with flesh-eating 
bacteria. As a result of constant pain, she was prescribed OxyContin, 
but said she didn't want to be on such an addictive drug.

"It was horrible. It did horrible things to my body," she said. "I 
could not comprehend anything. Getting off OxyContin was very slow 
and very painful. The pain that I had in the flesh-eating bacteria 
was less painful than getting off OxyContin.

"It's really a sad thing when they're saying what I'm doing is 
illegal drug use."

But an attorney with Jones & Mayer, the firm retained by the city of 
Costa Mesa, said the decision vindicates what they have been fighting 
for on behalf of the city.

"This opinion is a significant victory for the city," said Litigation 
Department Manager Jim Touchstone.

Although he wouldn't comment on the direction the city would head 
with the decision, he said that he and fellow colleague Krista Jee 
fought to prove that cities are not in violation of the ADA.

In the decision, Fisher said Congress has made clear that ADA 
provides no protection for medical marijuana use.

James said she plans to appeal.

"We're going to keep fighting the fight," she said. "This isn't over."

- -Reporters from the Los Angeles Times also contributed to this report.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom