Advocacy group challenges pot club bans

October 05, 2005

Associated Press, Mercury News

A patient advocacy group on Thursday filed lawsuits against three California cities, charging that bans on medical marijuana illegally restrict the rights of patients and their doctors.

The suits by Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access follow a similar lawsuit the organization filed against Fresno this April challenging that city's clinic ban.

"These bans clearly conflict with state law," said Joe Alfred, the group's lead attorney.

The suits against Concord, Pasadena and Susanville charge that the bans have forced patients to drive to other, often remote cities to obtain medical marijuana.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that a federal ban on marijuana trumps any state laws allowing its use, including California's Proposition 215, which permits marijuana use for medical purposes.

Since then, numerous California localities have shuttered marijuana clinics and even politically liberal San Francisco politicians have called for a moratorium on new marijuana clinics.

"We hope this litigation will help local officials realize that permanent bans are unacceptable not just legally but morally, since they punish the sick and suffering in their communities who mainly rely on dispensaries," ASA Legal Campaign Director Kris Hermes said Thursday.

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