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Judge Will Rule On Dispensary Case


Nug of the Month: Aug 2008
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.

NewsHawk: Ganjarden: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Daily Pilot
Author: Mona Shadia
Contact: Daily Pilot
Copyright: 2010 Daily Pilot
Website: Judge will rule on dispensary case
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