Question Presented to the Court: "Whether the [US] Controlled Substances Act, 21 USC. 801 et seq., exceeds Congress' power under the Commerce Clause as applied to the intrastate cultivation and possession of marijuana for purported personal 'medicinal' use or to the distribution of marijuana without charge for such use."
Case Timeline: (Main Events) in date order.
2002 Oct. 9
Complaint filed: Two medical marijuana patients, Angel McClary Raich and Diane Monson, and two caregivers, John Doe Number One and John Doe Number Two, filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction against US Attorney General John Ashcroft and former DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson. The case is named, at this time, Raich, et al. v. Ashcroft, et al.
The plaintiffs asked Judge Martin J. Jenkins to issue a Preliminary Injunction during the pendency of the action, and Declaratory Relief and a Permanent Injunction enjoining the defendants from arresting or prosecuting the plaintiffs, seizing their medical cannabis, forfeiting their property, or seeking civil or administrative sanctions against them for their activities with respect to any of the following:
the possession of medical cannabis by Plaintiffs Angel McClary Raich and Diane Monson for their personal medical use;
the ability of McClary Raich to obtain medical cannabis from her caregivers, John Doe Numbers One and Two, for her personal medical use;
the ability of John Doe Numbers One and Two to cultivate and provide medical cannabis to McClary Raich for her personal medical use;
the processing of medical cannabis by McClary Raich for her personal medical use; and
the cultivation of medical cannabis by Monson for her personal medical use.
The complaint states that John Ashcroft and Asa Hutchinson are "unconstitutionally exceeding their authority by embarking on a campaign of seizing or forfeiting privately-grown intrastate medical cannabis from California patients and caregivers, arresting or prosecuting such patients, mounting paramilitary raids against patients and caregivers, harassing patients and caregivers, and taking other civil or administrative actions against them." [View complaint (PDF 650 KB)] [View Defendants' Opposition (PDF 300 KB)]
2002 Dec. 17
Court Hearing: Prior to issuing his order on the motion for preliminary injunction filed on Oct. 9, 2002 by plaintiffs (see above), US District Court Judge Martin J. Jenkins held a hearing with Raich's attorneys and Ashcroft's attorney to discuss issues of law raised by the motion for preliminary injunction.
2003 Mar. 5
Injunction Denied: The District Court filed an order denying the preliminary injunction, stating that "[t]he fact that, in the Court's view, the equitable factors tip in plaintiff's favor does not alter the Court's conclusion" that Plaintiff Raich will be unable to establish a liklihood of success on the merits. The Court held that "the weight" of the Ninth Circuit's precedents, which it must follow it issue its order, were against Raich. [View court order (PDF 775 KB)]
2003 Mar. 12
Appeal Filed: The Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to appeal the District Court order denying the injunction against the Justice Department.
2003 Apr. 23
Opening Brief: Appellants (Plaintiffs -- Raich, Monson and John Doe Numbers One and Two) filed their Opening Brief in the Court of Appeals. [View Appellants Brief (PDF 1.5 MB)]
2003 May 28
Answering Brief: Appellees (Defendants -- Ashcroft & Hutchinson) filed their Answering Brief in the Court of Appeals. [View Appellees Answering Brief (PDF 2.5 MB)]
2003 Oct. 7
9th Circuit Hearing: Hearing in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The case was heard before judges Pregerson, Beam (8th Circuit), and Paez.
2003 Dec. 16
9th Circuit Ruling Issued: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court judgment denying Raich's injunction against the Justice Department and ruled in support of patients and caregivers -- holding that the Federal government's actions against them are unconstitutional and "that the burden faced by the appellants if (...) they are denied access to medicinal marijuana, warrants the entry of a preliminary injunction."
Vote: 2-1. Majority Opinion: Judge Harry Pregerson, 9th Circuit. Joined by: Judge Richard A. Paez, 9th Circuit Dissenting Opinion: Judge C. Arlen Beam, 8th Circuit (Midwest)