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Angel Raich
Raich v. Gonzalez
Case No: 03-15481
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit


Alberto Gonzalez
U.S. Attorney General
I. The Question Before The Court

In the Raich v. Gonzales Opinion of Mar. 14, 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated the question before them as follows:

"Appellants seek declaratory and injunctive relief based on the alleged unconstitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act, and a declaration that medical necessity precludes enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act against them. On Mar. 5, 2003, the district court denied appellants' motion for a preliminary injunction. We hear this matter on remand following the Supreme Court's decision in Gonzales v. Raich (PDF) 478KB, 125 S. Ct. 2195 (2005)."
Mar. 14, 2007 Raich v. Gonzales (PDF) 155KB

II. The Decision

In the Raich v. Gonzales Opinion of Mar. 14, 2007, the United Stated Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stated their decision as follows:

"For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the district court."
Mar. 14, 2007 Raich v. Gonzales (PDF) 155KB


III. Reviews of Decision

Randy E. Barnett, JD, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, states in a Mar. 16, 2007 article he wrote for the Wall Street Journal titled "Reefer Madness":

"On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit turned away another constitutional challenge to the federal ban on using cannabis for medical purposes. Its decision revealed a glaring weakness in how the Supreme Court protects liberty under the Constitution.

Angel Raich is a seriously ill 41-year-old mother of two who, in 2002, sought an injunction allowing her to use cannabis to alleviate intense pain, and relief from a life-threatening, wasting syndrome. She prevailed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But the Supreme Court in 2005 rejected her argument that the application of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to the personal cultivation, possession and use of state-authorized cannabis for medical purposes was unconstitutional because it exceeded the power of Congress to 'regulate commerce . . . among the several states.' Justices O'Connor and Thomas, joined by Chief Justice Rehnquist, passionately dissented.

On remand, Ms. Raich renewed her alternate theory that the CSA's complete ban on the medical use of cannabis also violated her fundamental right to preserve her life, as protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. This week, the Ninth Circuit rejected this claim but held out some hope that, if criminally prosecuted, Ms. Raich qualified for the defense of 'necessity.'

According to this doctrine, when a person is forced to choose between her life and disobeying a criminal law, she may not be punished for preserving her life. Though not entitling Ms. Raich to an injunction against the CSA, the court strongly indicated she could assert a necessity defense to any future federal criminal prosecution. The Ninth Circuit thereby offered a potential lifeline to other criminal defendants who can prove that they, like Ms. Raich, have no other choice but to use cannabis to save their lives."
Mar. 16, 2007 Randy E. Barnett

IV. Documents and Related Links
1. PDF of Mar. 14, 2007 Raich v. Gonzalez Opinion (PDF) 154KB by Judge Pregerson; Partial Concurrence and Partial Dissent by Judge Beam, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
2. PDF of 2005 Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Raich (PDF) 478KB
3. recap of 2005 Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Raich

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