Monday, June 06, 2005

Supreme Court Marijuana Decision - So much for liberals and conservatives

The US Supreme Court recently made another decision on "medical marijuana" (PDF).

California legalized marijuana for medical use. Under federal law (the Controlled Substances Act, or CSA), marijuana remains illegal. The CSA was challenged as violating the Commerce Clause (and also the Necessary and Proper Clause). This is part of a very long dispute on the Court over how much power the federal government should have vis-a-vis the state governments. The states' rights side, usually conservative, argues for more power to the states. The liberal side tends to support more federal power.

So we have a supposedly liberal issue -- medical marijuana -- and its proponents arguing a conservative position -- that in the CSA the federal government is encroaching on states' rights.

The Court ruled 6-3 holding that the CSA does not violate the Commerce Clause -- effectively ruling against medical marijuana. What is most striking is who dissented: O'Connor, Rehnquist, and Thomas. Three of the most conservative justices effectively voted for medical marijuana (O'Connor was careful to note that she would have voted against the California law if she had been a resident of the state). Meanwhile liberal justices like Breyer and Ginsburg voted against medical marijuana.

For some other blog posts and links on this topic, see:


SCOTUSblog has an extensive discussion today with several posts, including this one.

Drug Policy Alliance Blog is part of the leading and most central organization fighting against the drug war.

Last, and probably least, if anyone needs a lawyer in New York State for a marijuana-related case, they might want to check out my website's marijuana lawyer page.
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