For Immediate Release
ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford 415-573-7842 or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes 510-681-6361
Medical Marijuana Lawsuit Filed Against Department of Motor Vehicles
Americans for Safe Access fights baseless revocation of patient's driver's license
advocacy organization Americans for Safe Access (ASA) against the
California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on behalf of Rose
Johnson, a 53-year-old patient from Atwater. Despite Ms. Johnson's
clean driving record, not having caused an accident in 37 years of
driving, the DMV revoked her license on July 26, 2008 because of her
status as a medical marijuana patient. The DMV refused to renew Ms.
Johnson's license only after obtaining her medical records and finding
out that she was a qualified medical marijuana patient. According to
the DMV, Ms.
Johnson's license was revoked "because of...[an] addiction to, or
habitual use of, [a] drug," thereby rendering her unable to safely
operate a motor vehicle, even though no evidence existed to
"The DMV cannot simply disregard California's medical marijuana law,"
said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who is representing Ms. Johnson in
her claim against the DMV. "When the voters of California enacted
the Compassionate Use Act, they never intended to authorize the DMV to
medical marijuana patients of their drivers' licenses," continued
Elford. "The DMV should not be in the business of revoking the licenses
of drivers like Ms. Johnson simply because she is a medical marijuana
Advocates assert that the DMV policy of suspending and revoking the
licenses of medical marijuana patients is 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 the drivers "drug
abusers" despite no evidence of the claim.
In 2007, Merced -- the county in which Ms. Johnson lives -- implemented
a police policy that instructed its Sheriff deputies to respect state
law and not to cite medical marijuana patients or seize their medicine.
"The DMV is not under a different set of requirements than local police
in California," said Elford. "The failure to uphold California's
medical marijuana law is entirely inappropriate for any local or state
The lawsuit filed today by ASA is expected to be heard in Merced
Court in the next few months. The lawsuit against the DMV is part of a
campaign by ASA to fully implement California's medical marijuana laws.
ASA's lawsuit against the DMV:
With over 30,000 active members in more than 40 states, Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research. ASA works to overcome political and legal barriers by creating policies that improve access to medical cannabis for patients and researchers through legislation, education, litigation, grassroots actions, advocacy and services for patients and the caregivers.