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Gonzales v. Raich

Supreme Court of the United States

November 29, 2004, Argued ; June 6, 2005, Decided

No. 03-1454


 [*5]  [**2198]   Justice Stevens delivered the opinion of the Court.

LEdHN[1A][] [1A] California is one of at least nine States that authorize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. 1 The question presented [**2199]  in this case is whether the power vested in Congress by Article I, § 8, of the Constitution "[t]o make all Laws [****8]  which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution" its authority to "regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States" includes the power to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana in compliance with California law.

 [****9]  I

California has been a pioneer in the regulation of marijuana. In 1913, California was one of the first States to prohibit the sale and possession of marijuana, 2 [****10]  and at the end of the century, California became the first State to authorize limited use of the drug for medicinal purposes. In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, now codified as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. 3 The proposition was designed  [*6]  to ensure that "seriously ill" residents of the State have access to marijuana for medical purposes, and to encourage Federal and State Governments to take steps towards ensuring the safe and affordable distribution of the drug to patients in need. 4 [****11]  The Act creates an exemption from criminal prosecution  [***12]  for physicians, 5 as well as for patients and primary caregivers who possess or cultivate marijuana for medicinal purposes with the recommendation or approval of a physician. 6 A "primary caregiver" is a person who has consistently assumed responsibility for the housing, health, or safety of the patient. 7

Respondents Angel Raich and Diane Monson are California residents who suffer from a variety of serious medical conditions and have sought to avail themselves of medical marijuana pursuant to [**2200]  the terms of the Compassionate Use  [*7]  Act. They are being treated by licensed, board-certified family practitioners, who have concluded, after prescribing a host of conventional medicines to treat respondents' conditions and to alleviate their associated symptoms, that [****12]  marijuana is the only drug available that provides effective treatment. Both women have been using marijuana as a medication for several years pursuant to their doctors' recommendation, and both rely heavily on cannabis to function on a daily basis. Indeed, Raich's physician believes that forgoing cannabis treatments would certainly cause Raich excruciating pain and could very well prove fatal.

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545 U.S. 1 *; 125 S. Ct. 2195 **; 162 L. Ed. 2d 1 ***; 2005 U.S. LEXIS 4656 ****; 73 U.S.L.W. 4407; 18 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 327


Subsequent History:  [****1] On remand at Raich v. Gonzales, 500 F.3d 850, 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 5834 (9th Cir. Cal., Mar. 14, 2007)


Raich v. Ashcroft, 352 F.3d 1222, 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 25317 (9th Cir. Cal., 2003)

Disposition: Vacated and remanded.

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Criminal Law & Procedure, Controlled Substances, Substance Schedules, General Overview, Possession, Simple Possession, Elements, Manufacture, Hashish & Marijuana, Constitutional Law, Commerce Clause, Interstate Commerce, Transportation Law, Federal Powers, Congressional Duties & Powers, Governments, Federal Government, US Congress, Federal Powers, Powers of Congress, Substantial Relations, Prohibition of Commerce, Miscellaneous Offenses, Gambling, Separation of Powers, Changes & Exceptions, Business & Corporate Compliance, Transportation Law, State Powers, Supremacy Clause, Stimulation of Commerce