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|The 6 Majority Judges
John Paul Stevens
Anthony M. Kennedy
David Hackett Souter
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Steven G. Breyer
Read Full Decision in PDF
Summary of the case
|The 3 Minority Judges
Sandra Day O'Connor
(official biography of all nine Supreme Court judges, in PDF)
CNN reported on June 6, 2005:Gina Holland of the Associated Press reported on 6/6/05:
"Federal authorities may prosecute sick people who smoke pot on doctors' orders, the Supreme Court ruled Monday [6/6/05], concluding that state medical marijuana laws don't protect users from a federal ban on the drug.
The decision is a stinging defeat for marijuana advocates who had successfully pushed 10 states to allow the drug's use to treat various illnesses.
Justice John Paul Stevens, writing the 6-3 decision, said that Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana.
The closely watched case was an appeal by the Bush administration in a case that it lost in late 2003. At issue was whether the prosecution of medical marijuana users under the federal Controlled Substances Act was constitutional.
Under the Constitution, Congress may pass laws regulating a state's economic activity so long as it involves 'interstate commerce' that crosses state borders. The California marijuana in question was homegrown, distributed to patients without charge and without crossing state lines."
Under the Constitution, Congress may pass laws regulating a state's economic activity so long as it involves 'interstate commerce' that crosses state borders. The California marijuana in question was homegrown, distributed to patients without charge and without crossing state lines.
Stevens said there are other legal options for patients, 'but perhaps even more important than these legal avenues is the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied with these respondents may one day be heard in the halls of Congress....'
In a dissent, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said that states should be allowed to set their own rules.
'The states' core police powers have always included authority to define criminal law and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their citizens,' said O'Connor, who was joined by other states' rights advocates.
The legal question presented a dilemma for the court's conservatives, who have pushed to broaden states' rights in recent years, invalidating federal laws dealing with gun possession near schools and violence against women on the grounds the activity was too local to justify federal intrusion.
O'Connor said she would have opposed California's medical marijuana law if she was a voter or a legislator. But she said the court was overreaching to endorse 'making it a federal crime to grow small amounts of marijuana in one's own home for one's own medicinal use.'"
6/6/05 Associated Press
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