The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion declaring that the federal Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") does not protect medical marijuana users claiming discrimination based on their use of marijuana. In James v. City of Costa Mesa, the Court held that doctor-recommended marijuana use, authorized by state law, but prohibited by federal law, is an illegal use of drugs for purposes of the ADA. (No. 10-55769, May 21, 2012.) This ruling highlights the continued conflict between state and federal law over the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and recognizes that marijuana has no legitimate use under federal law.
Plaintiffs sought to prevent the efforts by the cities of Costa Mesa and Lake Forest ("Cities") to close medical marijuana collectives; plaintiffs' theory was that the Cities’ actions of closing the collectives interfered with plaintiffs’ access to medical marijuana. Plaintiffs further alleged that the closure of the collectives amounted to discrimination in the provision of public services, thus violating the ADA.