The Supreme Court recognized the federal government’s authority to enforce federal laws outlawing marijuana in all circumstances, even in those states that have legalized the substance for some medical purposes.
In 1996, California legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in the so-called Compassionate Use Act, which was similar to the statutes in ten other states. All such statutes conflicted with the federal Controlled Substance Act (1970)
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the DEA’s application of the federal statute was unconstitutional insofar as it applied to the intrastate, noncommercial possession and cultivation of a substance for medical use as recommended by a physician. The court pointed to the United States v. Lopez
The Supreme Court, however, upheld the federal government’s position by a 6-3 vote. In the opinion for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens
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Lopez, United States v.
Stevens, John Paul