Cedar Fire Victim Files Medical-Marijuana Suit

March 08, 2007

, NBC San Diego - TV

SAN DIEGO -- A man badly burned in the Cedar Fire is spearheading a class-action lawsuit over medical marijuana.


The federal government doesn't recognize marijuana as a legal medication, but the state of California does. The county of San Diego has been forced to choose sides and, so far, has sided with federal authorities.


The new class-action suit, though, could set the stage for how the law is ultimately enforced in the county.

Nothing comes easy for Reyes, who was burned over nearly 70 percent of his body.


"The pain is nonstop .... it's a constant itching, it's a constant wanting to itch or do something with the skin, but I can't do that," Reyes told NBC 7/39.


Reyes ran through a wall of flames to escape the flames in 2003. He said that marijuana is the best medication for him and added that his doctors agree.


According to the recently filed suit, Reyes has recently had problems getting his hands on the drug. He is suing the county under the Americans With Disabilities Act.


"This is a medication approved by my state to help me deal with life and live a better life, and this is what it's all about: the fact that the county of San Diego is not allowing me my medication to live a better life," Reyes said.


Reyes said that the local marijuana dispensaries, which are legal under state law, have nearly all been shut down and that growing the plant is difficult. He said his home was raided by sheriff's deputies two years ago and last month he was robbed at gunpoint.


"They came, gun at the door, and made me drop to the ground and tried to hold me hostage," Reyes said.


An attorney handling the case for the county called the lawsuit frivolous because "the county has no program, service or activity related to providing medical marijuana to anyone. For a litigant to invoke the ADA to seek personal access to his or her drug of choice appears to be misuse of the statute."


A representative for the Drug Enforcement Administration told NBC 7/39 on Friday that even if the county issued ID cards and fell in line with the state, the DEA would not change its approach to enforcement, meaning it could and would arrest anyone selling or in possession of marijuana.

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