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Gonzalez v. Raich

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Angel Raich and Diane Monson, California residents who use medical marijuana, brought an action to enjoin the Attorney General of the United States and the head of the DEA seeking an injunctive and declaratory relief forbidding the administration of the federal Controlled Substance Act (CSA), to the extend that it prevents users, like them from possessing, obtaining, or manufacturing cannabis for their personal medical use.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    Congress may regulate the distribution, possession, and manufacture of marijuana among the states, so long as Congress’ means are rationally related to its objective.

    Facts.

    Angel Raich and Diane Monson are California residents who have a medical condition in which they avail their medical condition by using medical marijuana. Their doctors have indicates that marijuana is the only drug that will provide effective treatment. Further, Monson cultivates her own medical marijuana, however, Raich does not because she is unable to. Instead, two caregivers, described as “John Does†provide Raich marijuana at no charge. On August 15, 2002, a county sheriffs and federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents came to Monson’s home. The officials concluded that Monson’s use of marijuana was lawful. However, during the three-hour stand off, the federal agents seized and destroyed all six of her cannabis plants. Subsequently, Raich and Monson brought an action against the Attorney General of the United States and the head of the DEA seeking an injunctive and declaratory relief.

    Issue.

    Whether Congress, under Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, the Necessary and Proper Clause, includes the power to forbid the cultivation and use of marijuana in compliance with California law.

    Held.

    Yes, under the Necessary and Proper Clause of the Constitution, Congress may forbid he cultivation and use of marijuana in compliance with California law.

    Dissent.

    States have sovereignty from federal encroachment, under their police powers. The majority is allowing Congress to encroach on the States police powers by indicating that the medical marijuana at issue in this case possesses a commercial nature. Here, Respondents did not obtain the marijuana through a commercial transaction, but rather Respondents either grown it themselves or obtain it from a caregiver free of charge. The Government has not shown how this activity does not have a substantial effect on the interstate commerce.

    Concurrence.

    Marijuana is a fungible commodity, which Congress has the power, under the Commerce Clause to regulate, even when the state creates a law that is contrary to the federal regulation.

    Discussion.

    California is one of the nine states that allow its citizens to use marijuana for medical purposes. Under the CSA, Congress has created a system in which it is unlawful to manufacture, dispense, or posses any controlled substance, unless authorized by the CSA schedules. The CSA schedules have categorized marijuana has a Schedule 1 drug, which indicates that marijuana has a high potential of being abusive and lacks an accepted medical use. Moreover, by categorizing a drug under Schedule 1, the possession, manufacture, or distribution of a Schedule 1 drug, marijuana, is a criminal offense. Furthermore, under the Commerce Clause, Congress may regulate activities that substantially affect interstate commerce. The Court finds that Congress’ regulation of marijuana, for any use, may have a substantial effect on the supply and demand in the national market. The court rejects Respondents arguments regarding United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995) and United States v. Morrison, 529 U.S. 598 (2000) on the grounds that those cases are too broad and disregard the modern-era of the Commerce Clause. Additionally, the court does not respond to Respondent’s substantive due process claim because the Court of Appeals did not address it. Therefore, under the Commerce Clause issue, the court finds that Congress has rationally concluded that the cumulative effect on the national market of all the transactions exempted from federal control is substantial.



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