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Gonzales v Raich case brief + full opinion

here you will see the Gonzales v Raich case brief.

Gonzales v Raich case criminalizes domestic cultivation of mari juana.

In the Gonzales v Raich case, the United States Supreme Court decided that Congress can prohibit the cultivation and use of homegrown cannabis under the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution, even if state law authorizes it for medicinal use.

Here I will share with you the Gonzales v Raich case brief to help you understand everything you need to know about the Gonzales v Raich case in a simple and accurate way.

Interested in learning how to write your own case brief? learn here.

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Gonzales v Raich case brief

Gonzales v. Raich – 545 U.S. 1, 125 S. Ct. 2195 (2005)

decided on Decided June 6, 2005


Justice John Paul Stevens, Supreme Court of the United States


Alberto R. Gonzales, Attorney General, et al. Petitioner, and Angel McClary Raich and Diane Monson Respondents


Respondents filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against Petitioners in District Court.

The District Court denied the Respondent’s motion. They Appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed and ordered the District Court to grant the motion.

The Petitioners petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to determine the case.


Respondents, Angel Raich and Diane Monson are California citizens who suffer from a medical illness for which they use medical mari juana to treat. According to their doctors, mari juana is the only medicine that can effectively treat them.

On another hand, the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act and The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) were passed by Congress to combat illegal drug use in the United States. The latter divided illegal narcotics into schedules and prohibited their sale, purchase, and possession in different ways.

Apart from those laws, California passed the Compassionate Use Act (CUA),  legalizing mari juana for medical use.

The California law conflicted with the congress laws. As a result, Monson’s house was raided by county sheriffs and federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigators, they captured and destroyed all six of her cannabis plants.

Consequently, Respondents filed this lawsuit seeking injunctive and declaratory relief to stop the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) from preventing individuals from possessing, obtaining, or manufacturing cannabis for personal medical use.

Respondents argue that executing the CSA against them would be a violation of the Commerce Clause and other provisions of the U.S Constitution.

Respondent’s motion for a preliminary injunction was denied by the District Court, but the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed and ordered the District Court to enter a preliminary injunction, finding that they had demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the claim that the CSA is an unconstitutional exercise of Congress’ Commerce Clause authority when applied to intrastate, noncommercial cultivation and possession of cannabis for personal medical purposes as recommended by a patient’s physician under valid California state law.

The Petitioners, petitioned to the Supreme Court of the United States to determine the case.


Does Congress laws have the power to regulate the use and possession of mari juana in California even if California’s law authorizes it for medicinal use.?


In reaching its decision the court applied the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution and rule that Congress has the authority to control mari juana distribution, possession, and manufacturing among states, as long as Congress’ means are rationally tied to its goal.


When applying the law to the facts, the court reasoned that Because the production of mari juana for home consumption had a significant impact on supply and demand in the national market, mari juana regulation under the CSA was squarely within Congress’ commerce power.

The Court had no trouble concluding that Congress had a rational basis for believing that failing to regulate the intrastate manufacture and possession of mari juana would leave a gaping hole in the CSA, given enforcement difficulties in distinguishing between mari juana grown locally and mari juana grown elsewhere, and concerns about diversion into illicit channels.

The court concluded that Congress was acting within the bounds of the US Constitution’s Commerce Clause.


Yes, Congress has the power to regulate the use and possession of mari juana, even if state law authorizes it for medicinal use.


The judgment of the Court of Appeals was vacated and remanded for further proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court of the United States opinion.

Concurring Opinion

Justice Scalia wrote a separate concurrence opinion.

He opined that The Trade Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause give Congress the authority to regulate acts that have a “substantial influence” on interstate commerce.

The Necessary and Proper Clause empowers Congress to do whatever it takes to achieve its regulatory goals.

Furthermore, under the Necessary and Proper Clause, Congress has broad authority to regulate even intrastate activities that have no significant impact on interstate trade.

Dissenting Opinion

Justice O’Connor and Justice Thomas dissented.

Justice O’Connor opined that the majority’s ruling jeopardizes state rights and imperils federalism. The judgment could allow Congress to control intrastate activity that is critical to interstate commerce unlawfully.

Justice Thomas opined that Growing mari juana for personal use is not properly classified as “commerce”

This is due to the fact that the mari juana in question was never bought or sold, never crossed state lines, and had no discernible impact on the national mari juana market.

This power has restrictions, even when augmented by the Necessary and Proper Clause.

As a result of Congress’ failure to demonstrate that medical mari juana legislation is required to combat interstate drug trafficking, their actions are in violation of the Tenth Amendment.

Read the full judgment here

Other case briefs to read

Isack Kimaro
Isack Kimaro

Isack Kimaro, a lawyer, Creative Writer and self-taught SEO expert has been a prominent author of law-related topics since 2017. Through hard work, dedication, and a relentless pursuit of knowledge, Isack has successfully navigated the legal industry by providing valuable and easy-to-understand legal information to 500,000+ individuals of all levels of understanding.