Medical Marijuana

California's DMV Has to Pay Attorney's Fees for Revoking Medical Pot Users License


Nice news from indefatigable defenders of medical pot users interests, Americans for Safe Access. as they must reimburse for the legal trouble they caused a citizen by taking away her license:

The Merced Superior Court ruled late last week that the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) must pay $69,400 in attorneys fees to Americans for Safe Access (ASA)…. The fees award stems from a lawsuit brought by ASA in November 2008 against the DMV for its policy of unjustly revoking drivers' licenses of qualified medical marijuana patients. The suit was filed on behalf of Rose Johnson, a 53-year-old medical marijuana patient from Atwater, whose license was revoked by the DMV because of her status as a patient. The DMV established a formal policy February 2009 to treat medical marijuana like any other prescription drug.

Thursday's ruling by Merced Superior Court found that, "As a result of the Plaintiff's efforts, there was a substantial change in the DMV regarding its policy and behavior in the treatment of medical marijuana," and that, "Administrative Officers were operating under the inaccurate and mistaken belief that medical marijuana use was illegal." Merced Superior Court Judge Brian L. McCabe concluded in his ruling that, "The Plaintiff [appeared] to be the catalyst in effectuating change in both the DMV's formal, public policy on the subject and the agency's adherence to the policy."….

Advocates assert that the DMV policy of suspending and revoking the licenses of medical marijuana patients was widespread, occurring in at at least 8 California counties, including Alameda, Butte, Contra Costa, Glenn, Merced, Placer, Sacramento, and Sonoma. License revocations by the DMV, which have been based on a person's status as a medical marijuana patient, are often rationalized by calling drivers "drug abusers," despite providing no evidence to support the claim.

Jacob Sullum blogged about the beginnings of this case back in November 2008. The Merced Superior Court's decision.