Alberto Gonzales v. Angel Raich
(2005): On June 6, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that federal law enforcement officials can prosecute medical marijuana patients, even if they grew their own medicine and even if they reside in a state where medical marijuana use is protected under state law. The decision does not say that the laws of California (or any other medical marijuana state) are unconstitutional; it does not invalidate them in any way. Also, it does not say that federal officials must prosecute patients. Decisions about prosecution are still left to the discretion of the federal government. The Court indicated that Congress and the Food and Drug Administration should work to resolve this issue. The U.S. Supreme Court decision stems from a lawsuit filed on October 9, 2002, by medical marijuana patients Angel Raich and Diane Monson. The lawsuit moved for a preliminary injunction against then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and then-DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson. The case reached the Supreme Court after Ashcroft appealed the December 2003 federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that ruled in favor of Raich. Click to view the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.