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Judge Rejects Effort To Keep Pot Sites Open

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Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
SANTA ANA – A federal judge has rejected a request by four Orange County medical marijuana patients for a temporary injunction preventing Lake Forest and Costa Mesa from shutting down marijuana dispensaries in their cities.

The four patients – Marla James, Wayne Washington, James Armatrout and Charles Daniel – argued through their attorney Matthew Pappas that the Americans with Disabilities Act gave disabled people a federally protected right to use medical marijuana if such use is legal under state law and done with appropriate supervision.

The four were asking the court to temporarily prevent the cities from taking any further action against medical marijuana collectives; bar the cities from violating the rights of qualified people under the ADA; award damages for past actions in violation of the ADA; and award attorneys' fees.

Pappas argued his clients would suffer irreparable harm absent a preliminary injunction against the cities.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Guilford's, however, ruled in favor of the cities.

In his judgment filed Friday, he concluded: "At this stage, the court agrees with defendants. Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act, and under that Act, it currently has no medical purpose."

Pappas said he is reviewing the ruling and considering options. "We'll certainly consider appealing the to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals," he said.

Jeffrey Dunn, attorney for the city of Lake Forest, said Judge Guilford's decision shows a careful analysis of the disabilities act.

"It concluded that the law does not allow the use of marijuana, an illegal drug under federal law," Dunn said.

Lake Forest Mayor Peter Herzog said he is pleased the judge sided with the cities and he sees it as an indication the state courts can proceed with their decisions.

"Essentially the whole purpose of this case was to stop the state courts and then they threw in the ADA, which has no merit," Herzog said.

Lake Forest officials are awaiting a ruling on their request to shut down 11 dispensaries in that city.

In September, the city sued 35 people, including medical marijuana dispensary owners and retail landowners who rented space to them. Since then, several of the dispensaries have shut down, though 11 remain. The city is involved in several lawsuits targeting clusters of marijuana collectives based on their locations and ownership.

Shannon Saccullo, who owns Earth Cann Wellness Center, a medical marijuana collective in Lake Forest, was disappointed by the court's decision.

"This is a sad day where patients are only bound to Western medicine," said Saccullo, who has drastically cut membership at her collective by not serving those patients who have medical marijuana cards issued by doctors who are under investigation.

"Marijuana is a natural substance," she said "It's sad that the judge hasn't educated himself on these healthful benefits."

In Costa Mesa, there are about 10 to 15 dispensaries that are illegally operating, according to Deputy City Attorney Jim Touchstone. In 2005, the city put a zoning ordinance in place prohibiting them in the city.

"I'm pleased, and I expected that ruling," said Costa Mesa City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow, who added that the city will continue to enforce its ordinance unless ordered otherwise by the council or the court. "I'm glad that the judge felt the way we thought."

In February, Costa Mesa police began cracking down on dispensaries operating illegally in the city without proper business licenses. The city's police and code enforcement officers have given out cease-and-desist letters to shops, along with arresting some shop owners for marijuana sales and possession.

In response, two of the dispensaries that were ordered to shut down have filed a lawsuit alleging that Costa Mesa's ban is unconstitutional.

In a complaint filed April 19, Herban Elements, Inc. and MedMar Patient Care Collective allege that the city of Costa Mesa's ordinance banning medical marijuana dispensaries conflicts with the state constitution and bars patients from accessing their medicine.

NewsHawk: User: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: ocregister.com
Copyright: 2010 Orange County Register Communications
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Website: Judge rejects effort to keep pot sites open | city, marijuana, medical - News - The Orange County Register

• Thanks to MedicalNeed for submitting this article