Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Medical Marijuana Case

June 28, 2004

, Cato Daily Dispatch

'The U.S. Supreme Court agreed yesterday to decide whether the federal government can prosecute sick people who smoke marijuana on the advice of a doctor,' the Associated Press reports. 'The case, Ashcroft v. Raich, involves the Bush administration's appeal of a case it lost last year involving two California women who say pot is the only drug that eases their chronic pain and other medical problems.'

Attorney Randy Barnett, Cato senior fellow and author of Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty, represents the petitioners who are fighting for access to medical marijuana in this case. In 'Federalism Wins: Ninth Circuit Gets Medical-marijuana Right,' he writes: 'The [Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals] found that because the cultivation, possession, and use of medical cannabis was a completely non-economic activity and too attenuated from interstate commerce, applying the federal Controlled Substance Act to this conduct exceeded the power of Congress under the Commerce Clause.' In a statement released after the Ninth Circuit Court decision, Barnett said: 'If this case does go to the Supreme Court, we will learn whether the more conservative justices who developed this doctrine [of federalism] have the courage of their convictions when it applies to activities of which they may disapprove. We will also see whether the more liberal justices will put their disdain for the Court's landmark Commerce Clause cases--U.S. v. Lopez and U.S. v. Morrison--above the commitment to stare decisis, which would let them do justice to those whose suffering is alleviated by use of medical cannabis.'

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