More weed news from the West Coast: A federal court in California just ruled 2-1 that cities can ban medical marijuana dispensaries — and that doing so doesn’t violate the Americans With Disabilities Act.
As detailed by the San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco’s Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said federal drug law does not make exceptions for disabled individuals who use pot for severe pain. Medical marijuana bans, the judges said, do not count as discrimination.
The lawsuit that lead to the ruling was filed by Orange County residents, who couldn’t get prescription pot in Irvine or Lake Forest for their disability-prompted pain. Their claim: “that the cities’ bans on suppliers were discriminatory” — hence a violation of the ADA.
The court disagreed. The majority opinion, as summed up by the paper, is along these lines: “The law could be read to cover patients who used marijuana with their doctor’s approval. But that interpretation would undermine federal narcotics laws that clearly prohibit all uses of marijuana.”
The California decision fits in line with the official policy of the Obama administration, but comes at a time when controversy and conflict over medical marijuana continue across the U.S. — especially among judicial officials.
Indeed, New York Supreme Court Judge Gustin L. Reichbach outed himself as a pot-smoker in a New York Times op-ed last week; he says that it’s the only substance that soothes loss of appetite and insomnia caused by his cancer treatment.
Also, recent reports from Oregon indicate that pot can play heavily into political success, and largely explain the primary election victory of a state attorney general candidate.
The Voice will keep you updated with any policy developments.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 22, 2012