Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

May 20, 2010
Disabled medical users sue over Orange County pot policies

Few communities in California have gone after medical marijuana dispensaries as aggressively as the Orange County city of Lake Forest.

Last September, the Lake Forest filed suit against 35 people either involved in operating pot clubs or leasing space to them.

The suit was by followed November raids by the Orange County Sheriffs Department on two Lake Forest dispensaries, 215 Agenda and Health Collective, and criminal charges including illegal marijuana sales and money laundering.

Now a group of disabled medical marijuana users is suing Lake Forest and another Orange County city -- Costa Mesa -- for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act through attempts to purge their municipalities of dispensaries.

On April 26, U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford denied a request for a temporary injunction to allow pot outlets to continue operating. The suit was filed by four plaintiffs, including wheel chair-bound medical marijuana users James Armantrout and Marla James.

But attorney Matthew Pappas of Mission Viejo has filed an appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Guilford said in his ruling that federal laws against marijuana indicate "no likelihood of success" in any claim of cities violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by cracking down on dispensaries.

But Pappas argues that the rules have changed since Congress, reversing an earlier ban it imposed, passed legislation in December to allow Washington D.C. to legalize medical marijuana. He argues in legal papers that the action gave federal sanction to medical pot - and thus protections under the disabilities act.

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