This week, the 9th Circuit ruled that medical marijuana users cannot rely on the Americans With Disabilities Act to keep their local marijuana dispensaries open. The case is James v. City of Costa Mesa (pdf). While it arose outside of the employment context, the court’s holding still applies.
Marla James and several other individuals alleged that they were prescribed medical marijuana for debilitating conditions, that their use was supervised by physicians, and that their cities’ efforts to close the dispensaries they used constituted disability discrimination. In a 2-1 decision, the appellate court held that they could not rely on the ADA because it contained an exclusion for illegal drug use. And no matter what laws California or other states enacted, marijuana use was still illegal under federal law.
Earlier cases have reached the same conclusion in the employment context. So this isn’t a huge surprise. But it doesn’t bode well for those hoping that Congress will soon make Jerry Garcia’s birthday a national holiday.