Lots of blather...
The Feds say it is constitutional under the Commerce Clause, by which the states delegated to the feds the power to regulate interstate commerce. The feds say that medical marijuana in purely intrastate non-commerce affects the illegal market for dope (by reducing demand for illegal dope), and therefore may be regulated.
Arguments were made to the Supreme Court in November but they haven't ruled yet: the length of time is unusual.
Michael Kirkland, UPI Legal Affairs Correspondent, speculates on the reason for the delay:
Perhaps the justices are having trouble settling on a majority opinion. Perhaps they disagree on the way they want to slap down the state laws. Or perhaps they have to scrape together a plurality in order to find a way to rule for the Justice Department. One thing they certainly will not do is rule against the government.This is one of those interesting cases where the feds, who currently at least nominally believe in Federalism and States' Rights, are doing everything they can to assert that the states have no rights, and that anything which affects interstate commerce, no matter how slightly, may be regulated even if the activity itself is purely intra-state.
I think we have a bunch of fair-weather federalists who want the feds to butt out when it suits their purposes, and butt in when it suits them. That is: they are a bunch of hypocrites. They want it both ways, yet pretend to have a principled position. I suspect they will win, but that doesn't mean they ought to. The voters of the several states affected have clearly voted in favor of medical marijuana, and the feds won't leave them alone.
One reason: Admitting that the Commerce Clause means what it says would logically lead to striking down a lot of other laws which rely entirely on tiny tangential effects on interstate commerce for their alleged contitutionality.
When the Supreme Court struck down the federal Gun-Free School Zone law, which had relied on the supposed effect of education on interstate commerce for its power, some thought -hoped or feared- that the court was going to start taking the Commerce Clause seriously. As I recall, the Court said that if education's effect on interstate commerce was enuf to justify such an intrusion, there was no aspect of American life which could not be regulated under the Commerce Clause.
States eventually passed their own school zone laws, which was the proper way to go about addressing a widespread but local issue. I won't hold my breath on this case tho.
The case is Docket No. 03-1454, Gonzales vs. Raich et al.
Click here: On Law: Don't Bogart that marijuana case - (United Press International