A suit brought by four disabled Orange County residents arguing that the closures of marijuana dispensaries in Lake Forest and Costa Mesa violated their rights to access to treatment under the ADA was rejected by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit yesterday. The plaintiffs argued that California law and the anti-discrimination provisions of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act guaranteed them access to medical marijuana in the treatment of their illnesses, but two of the three judges said this would only apply "to uses specifically authorized under the federal Controlled Substances Act, such as an experimental test of a drug, and not to use of the drug under California's law."

The plaintiffs are considering an appeal to an en banc panel of 11 judges at the 9th Circuit.

This of course is another loss for the medical marijuana community and the marijuana legalization lobby in the face of a major statewide crackdown on medical marijuana that began last fall. Thus far, in San Francisco, this has mostly affected the "low-hanging fruit," and U.S. attorneys have forced the closure of five dispensaries based on provisions of state law that they be no less than 1,000 feet from any playground or school. Three more dispensaries, including the city's oldest, HopeNet in SoMa, received orders to close in February, however they remain open — and the school operating within the radius of HopeNet is actually some tiny charter school established long after HopeNet had set up shop at 223 9th Street in the late 1990s. HopeNet has vowed to challenge the feds, and they're pros at this -- they were raided by the DEA before in 2005.

Last month, Supervisors and other advocates rallied at City Hall following the surprise raid on Oaksterdam University in Oakland. District Attorney George Gascon has said he is going to play nice with the pot clubs, but that may just be an easy political position to take given that this crackdown is out of his hands.


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