Gonzales v. Raich

Facts

California passed the “Compassionate Use Act,” which allowed for the use of medical marijuana.  The Defendants were compliant with state laws when arrested, but guilty under federal DEA laws at the time.  The Defendant sued the Attorney General, arguing that Congress had exceeded their interstate commerce clause authority in legislating the behavior of a local citizen, consuming a locally grown herb in his own home.

Issue

Whether Congress can regulate homegrown medical marijuana consumed at home pursuant to the interstate commerce clause.

Holding

Yes, law upheld. Congress may regulate intrastate activity where the behavior, in the aggregate, can impact interstate commerce.  The court should not necessarily look for a substantial impact, but only should require that a “plausible story” be told to uphold Congressional action pursuant to the commerce clause.  The plausible story in this case is that the federal government cannot rightly distinguish between marijuana grown in one’s own home and the marijuana sold in interstate commerce (clearly a constitutionally authorized regulation, according to the court).  In order to regulate the latter, Congress must be able to regulate the former (grown in one’s own home).

Gonzales v. Raich on Casetext

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