HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Yet Even More on Raich and the Oral Arguments

Tony Mauro from The Legal Times weighs in on the oral argument yesterday in Raich v. Ashcroft.  In his opinion, the justices were not receptive to the arguments of those supportive of medicinal marijuana statutes.

The article states,

"The Supreme Court on Monday appeared ready to accept Bush administration arguments that California's medical marijuana law interferes too much with federal efforts to combat illicit drugs.

In spite of the conservative majority's interest in strengthening state powers, most justices seemed skeptical of the argument that California could defy the federal Controlled Substances Act by allowing purely in-state, noncommercial distribution of marijuana for medical use. Ten states have followed the lead of California, whose voters in 1996 passed Proposition 215 to allow marijuana use in cases of medical necessity.

"We face a mess," said Justice Stephen Breyer at one point, lamenting the prospect of states and federal governments having to distinguish between marijuana that was grown and used locally for medical purposes from that which crossed state lines and is subject to federal regulation.

Rather than enacting medical marijuana laws state by state, Breyer said, the Food and Drug Administration should be petitioned to reclassify marijuana in a way that would allow doctors to prescribe it.

"That seems to be the obvious way to get this done," Breyer said. "Medicine by regulation is better than medicine by referendum."

For more information and viewpoints, see the scotusblog.

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