Gonzales V. Raich

Topics: Supreme Court of the United States, United States Congress, Gonzales v. Raich Pages: 2 (691 words) Published: March 23, 2006
Gonzales v. Raich
In the case of Gonzales v. Raich, the Supreme Court made a judgment that affected the California users of medical marijuana. Under a law the federal Controlled Substance Act, marijuana is a schedule one controlled substance, however under a 1996 state California law, marijuana is legalized for usage for people who have a prescription from a doctor for medical usage. When the federal Drug Enforcement Administration enforced the CSA by destroying one of the defendant's marijuana plants, the defendants claimed that their constitutional rights were infringed upon.

The Commerce Clause of the United States gives Congress the power to regulate commerce both legal and illegal. The federal government claimed that Drug Administration followed Congress's law when they destroyed the plants, aka federal law trumps state. The defendants in the case argued that since the plants were grown for personal use, for a person with a prescription was completely legal under California law. Since the marijuana was not involved in any interstate commerce, they reasoned the DEA could not enforce the CSA. However, unfortunately, the majority opinion of the Supreme Court thought otherwise, they argued that even if the marijuana was cultivated for personal medical use, it still somehow affects the interstate commerce of the drug, therefore the CSA case still applies.

The majority opinion used the precedents from the case NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. as well as others in their ruling. According to the case, Congress cannot only directly regulate interstate commerce, but can also regulate activities that would "substantially affect" interstate commerce, a significant expansion of federal power. The court also cited a previous precedent from the case of Wickard v. Filburn, where the court decided that Congress can regulate any local activities, even non-commercial activities, if they substantially effect interstate commerce. The defendants on the other hand,...
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