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Disabled rights not violated when pot shops closed, court rules

May 21, 2012 | 11:09 am

Photo: South Robertson, near the corner of 24th Street, is reflected in the window of a medical marijuana dispensary. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times
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 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 Costa Mesa and Lake Forest, charging that the Orange County cities’ attempts to close dispensaries violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, 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.

Their attempt to win protection involves “not only their right to live comfortably, but also their basic human dignity,” and “California has embraced marijuana as an effective treatment for individuals…who face debilitating pain.”

But Fisher said Congress has made clear the disabilities law provides no protection for medical marijuana use.

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-- Maura Dolan

Photo: South Robertson, near the corner of 24th Street, is reflected in the window of a medical marijuana dispensary. Credit: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times

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