Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Raiche and the New Federalism?

The folks over at Scotusblog have had a fascinating discussion of the Supreme Court’s recent Gonzalez v. Raiche decision (released Monday). Scrolling down through the site reveals a broad commentary covering lots of angles on the Court’s ruling--including Justice Kennedy’s vote, Scalia’s abandoning Thomas and Rehnquist, and the meaning of federalism as articulated in the Court’s Commerce Clause jurisprudence.

From Lyle Denniston by way of summary:

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on Monday that Congress had the authority to make it a crime to grow and use marijuana purely for personal medical purposes when recommended by a doctor. In an opinion written by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court overturned a Ninth Circuit ruling that the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 exceeded Congress’ Commerce Clause power when applied to medical marijuana used under California law.

In practical terms, the Court’s decision will force the Justice Department to decide how aggressively it wants to prosecute individuals who grow and use marijuana for medical purposes, in the face of a spreading movement in the states to allow such uses. There are at least ten states, and perhaps 11 (if Arizona is counted) that allow such uses of marijuana. The same notion is being promoted in other states, too, and public opinion polls show that three-fourths of Americans asked support doctor-prescribed marijuana to ease pain and suffering.

For those interested in the legal implications of this medical marijuana case (no, this wasn’t just about smoking pot) Scotusblog has some great stuff up right now.

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