May 15, 2010

Lawsuit May Decide Fate of Marijuana Dispensary Ordinances

May 15, 2010

A very interesting lawsuit was filed this week in Orange County California. The lawsuit is challenging city ordinances in Costa Mesa and Lake Forest that ban medical marijuana dispensaries. The interesting thing about the lawsuit, to me, is not the fact that a ban is being challenged (that has already occurred before). It’s the type of legal argument being presented. Also, it’s not dispensary owners that are being represented in the lawsuit, its patients themselves, which I find very interesting, and legally significant.

Matthew Pappas is the attorney representing four Orange County medical marijuana patients. One of the arguments that he has been trying to use is that the dispensary bans violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, which has not worked. Last month, U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford rejected that argument, pointing out that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not include marijuana use. However, on appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Matthew Pappas has changed his argument a bit, and is now trying the ‘equal protection’ argument.

This argument is much more likely to win over the Court of Appeals than the previous strategy. Since last year, the United States Congress has lifted its ban on medical marijuana in Washington D.C. Not only that, the city is also working out ways to implement a dispensary system! And that’s where the crucial part of this lawsuit is contained. The United States Constitution, as well as case law, clearly states that all citizens are to have ‘equal protection of the laws.’ That means no special treatment from state to state, and more specifically, if the feds can have dispensaries, than so can states!

“Because Congress has said it’s OK to go ahead now with medical marijuana in Washington, D.C., equal protection says citizens should be protected equally everywhere,” Attorney Matthew Pappas said. “Congress can’t make it legal in D.C. and not anywhere else.” Very well said Mr. Pappas! The lawsuit requests an injunction to stop police activity against dispensaries, to bar the cities from further actions, to award damages for past actions and to pay legal fees. If the lawsuit is successful, the only way the feds and stiffs could get around it would be if there were no dispensaries anywhere, including DC, period. Would the authorities be willing to do so…I’ll leave that for another article…

What argument does the other side have to offer? “The plaintiffs’ claims are without any legal support, and it is costly to the city to defend this,” said Jeffrey Dunn, who represents the City of Lake Forest. Really Mr. Dunn? That’s the best you have? I think a high school civics student can look at the argument put forward by Mr. Pappas and see that it is clearly backed by quite a bit of legal support…Didn’t you have to study Brown v. Board in law school Mr. Dunn?? Will a California resident please check with the California Bar Association to see if this guy even has a license!

‘Attorney’ Jeffrey Dunn went on to say, “Marijuana use is illegal in the District of Columbia and the rest of the United States. For over 30 years, the federal courts have consistently rejected arguments that medicinal marijuana use is legal, and the United States Supreme Court has said that marijuana use is illegal despite California’s medical marijuana laws.” Since Mr. Dunn appears to be slow (or live under a rock), let’s bring him up to speed. Hey Jeffrey – DC NOW ALLOWS MARIJUANA USE FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES, AND HAS EVEN APPROVED DISPENSARIES. You should Google it sometime; you’d be amazed what you have been missing while you were practicing your propaganda 101.


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