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California medical marijuana advocates were dealt a blow recently by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has ruled that cannabis use is not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The ruling affirmed bans on cannabis dispensary bans on two Orange County cities, Costa Mesa and Lake Forest, and would appear to provide protections to other cities that have also imposed blanket bans on medical marijuana, including Imperial Beach, where the San Diego chapter of cannabis advocacy group Americans for Safe Access is pushing for a ballot proposal that would allow dispensaries to operate within city limits.

“We recognize that the plaintiffs are gravely ill, and that their request for ADA relief implicates not only their right to live comfortably, but also their basic human dignity,” writes judge Raymond Fisher in the ruling. “Congress has made clear, however, that the ADA defines 'illegal drug use' by reference to federal, rather than state, law, and federal law does not authorize the plaintiffs' medical marijuana use. We therefore necessarily conclude that the plaintiffs' medical marijuana use is not protected by the ADA.”

“It indicates that a person who is currently using drugs in an illegal manner under federal law is not disabled,” attorney James Touchstone, representing the city of Costa Mesa on the ruling, told Courthouse News Service.

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