James v. City of Costa Mesa

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Disability Law
  • Date Filed: 05-21-2012
  • Case #: 10-55769
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Fisher for the Court; Circuit Judge Pregerson; Partial Concurrence and Dissent by Circuit Judge Berzon
  • Full Text Opinion

Medical marijuana use is not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The plaintiffs, Ms. James, Mr. Washington, Mr. Armantrout and Mr. Dejong have severe disabilities for which they received doctor recommendations to use marijuana to treat their pain. The city of Costa Mesa passed an ordinance that banned medical marijuana dispensaries within the city limits. The plaintiffs brought suit, alleging that the city ordinances violate Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The district court denied injunctive relief, holding that the provisions of Title II of the ADA, which “prohibits discrimination in the provision of public service,” does not protect discrimination on the basis of marijuana use. The plaintiffs argued that a plain reading of Title II creates an exception, protecting “professionally supervised drug use carried out under any legal authority.” The Court rejected the argument and affirmed the lower court’s holding. The Court held that because the ADA includes marijuana use under its illegal drug exclusion, medical marijuana use, even if it is permitted by state law and/or authorized by a medical professional, is not protected by Title II of the ADA. AFFIRMED.

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