Ashcroft v. Raich
Does the federal Controlled Substances Act exceed
Congress's commerce power as applied to the intrastate cultivation and
possession of marijuana for "medicinal" use?
's Compassionate Use Act (1996) allows the cultivation, distribution, and use of
marijuana for medicinal purposes. It is in direct conflict with the federal
Controlled Substances Act, which classifies the drug as an illegal article of
commerce. Congress passed the CSA under its authority to regulate interstate
trade, and the Justice Department says it trumps
regulation. The question for the Justices: does the CSA permissibly cover
wholly in-state, non-commercial drug use and transactions?
Under the Supreme Court's decisions in Lopez (1995) and
v. Morrison (2000), the answer should be "no." So, at least, said the
Ninth Circuit have an
uncharacteristic appreciation for the lessons of Lopez and Morrison.
In an opinion written by Judge Pregerson,
’s medicinal marijuana rules do not have a “substantive effect” on
interstate trade, so they are not Congress’ business. “Lacking sale,
exchange or distribution, the activity does not possess the essential elements
of commerce.” Representing
the unfriendly federalist position is the SG’s office, which argues that
’s attempt to be laboratory of democracy in this area has nothing to commend
for the 9th Circuit opinion.
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