Ninth Circuit Rejects New Hearing on Whether Medical Marijuana is Protected by the ADA

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a petition to re-hear arguments that medical marijuana is protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In a split decision in May, a three-judge panel of the usually liberal court shot down the idea that the ADA allows sick or disabled people to use medical weed. The case, James v. the City of Costa Mesa, came about because of an amendment to California's medical-pot law that allows cities to set their own rules on dispensaries. Costa Mesa was among the cities that banned all marijuana dispensaries, and several "gravely ill" patients banded together for the lawsuit.

Following their loss, on June 4 the patients and their lawyers requested a re-hearing before an 11-judge "en banc" panel of the court.

In today's ruling, two of three judges (Harry Pregerson and Raymond C. Fisher) ruled against a re-hearing, so it won't take place. Judge Marsha S. Berzon ruled in favor of the re-hearing.

"No further petitions for rehearing will be considered," the amended opinion states.

The original ruling and today's decision are blows to advocates of medical marijuana. However, pot supporters can see hope on the horizon: Voters in Colorado and Washington poised to legalize marijuana outright.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.