Call it a showdown between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) – and in the end the feds came out on top once again.
On Tuesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied four disabled medical marijuana patients from Orange County from utilizing the ADA as a means to legally access their medicinal pot. By a 2-1 vote, the federal appellate court ruled that U.S. law does not recognize medical cannabis because pot is a Schedule I drug per the CSA.
Circuit Judge Raymond Fisher wrote: “We recognize that the plaintiffs are gravely ill,” but “Congress has made clear…that federal law does not authorize plaintiffs’ medical marijuana use.”
The quartet of patients had originally tried to sue the O.C. cities of Costa Mesa and Lake Forest following raids of legal dispensaries there in 2011 and 2012, using the federal ADA as a basis for a discrimination suit.
In doing so, the four plaintiffs invoked a provision that any illegal drug recommend by a licensed physician is covered by the anti-discriminatory protections of the ADA. Unfortunately, two of the three circuit court judges decided the ADA exception only applies to illegal drug use as permitted by the CSA; for example, experimental testing of cannabis – and not state-sanctioned regular medical marijuana consumption.
An attorney representing the plaintiffs, Matthew Pappas, told the Contra Costa Times that his clients are considering appealing to a larger panel of the circuit court.
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