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April 2004
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9th Circuit Commerce Clause Medical MJ Ruling to be Appealed to the Supremes

On Tuesday, John Ashcroft’s ” Justice” Department asked the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in Raich vs. Ashcroft, which found that the federal ban does not apply to those who use cannabis for medical purposes on their doctors’ advice, obtain the medicine without buying it, and get it within their state’s borders. The government contends there should be no medical exceptions to the federal anti-marijuana laws.

The December 16, 2003 decision in Raich vs. Ashcroft (Ninth Circuit Case No. 03-15481) was the first time a federal court had found a constitutional limitation to application of the Controlled Substances Act, the federal law that prohibits all use of marijuana. The court ruled that patients who grow their own or receive it free do not affect interstate commerce. Congress’s ability to regulate interstate commerce is the basis for federal drug laws. The December ruling applies to California and the six other states in the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction that allow medical cannabis use: Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

Of course, there’s no certainty what will happen with the Supreme Court, and yet I find myself welcoming the battle. It’s a good case. Properly narrow. After all, they grew the pot themselves, didn’t sell it, and used it in accordance with their state and local laws — it’s hard to defend the federal interest.
I really want to see the Supreme Court tell John Ashcroft that the Constitution isn’t about giving him the right to do whatever he wants to us.

[Thanks to Hillary with ASA.]

Update: Learn more about the case at Angel Justice.

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