Last updated on: 5/30/2008 10:51:00 AM PST
What Are Some of the Reactions and Projected Impacts of the Gonzalez (Ashcroft) v. Raich Supreme Court Decision?

PRO (yes)

Angel Raich, petitioner in the case, stated in a June 6, 2005 press conference:

"Just because the Supreme Court today has ruled against me does not mean that the war on patients should begin. It means that it's time for the federal government to have some compassion and have some heart. And to please use common sense. Do not waste taxpayers' dollars by coming in and locking us up. We're ill. We're not trying to be disobedient. We're just using this medicine, because it's what's saving our lives....

I don't like using cannabis; I use it because I have to stay alive. I promised my kids I would be here for them. I would like to follow the law but I can't because the law is unjust. I will continue to fight it if takes the last breath in my body.

If I need to leave the country, I will when that time comes. I unfortunately do not have a choice but to continue to use cannabis as a medicine. Otherwise, I would die."

June 6, 2005

Bill Lockyer, then California Attorney General, stated in a June 6, 2005 press release:

"Today's ruling does not overturn California law permitting the use of medical marijuana, but it does uphold a federal regulatory scheme that contradicts the will of California voters and limits the right of states to provide appropriate medical care for its citizens.

Although I am disappointed in the outcome of today's decision, legitimate medical marijuana patients in California must know that state and federal laws are no different today than they were yesterday."

June 6, 2005 - Bill Lockyer , JD 

The California Medical Association's Chief Executive Officer, Jack Lewin, MD, stated in a June 7, 2005 article published by the Eureka Times:

"The decision is disappointing, not because we are advocates of medical marijuana per se but we believe it's an intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship.... federal authorities have no business intruding in that relationship."

June 7, 2005 - California Medical Association 

Maurice Hinchey, US Representative (D-NY), stated in a June 8, 2005 article in the San Francisco Chronicle by Edward Epstein:

"I was disappointed in the decision.  It was wrong.  But I was glad to see that wording about Congress in his decision.  The Congress has to deal with this issue."

June 8, 2005 - Maurice Hinchey 

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) stated on its website (accessed Aug. 24, 2005):

"The U.S. Supreme Court's June 6 ruling in Gonzales v. Raich does not affect states' ability to pass medical marijuana law -- and it does not overturn the laws now protecting the right of 57 million Americans living in Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington to use medical marijuana legally under state laws.

Top officials in all 10 states with medical marijuana laws have publicly affirmed that the Court's decision in Raich does not impact their medical marijuana laws."

Aug. 24, 2005 - Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) 

Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and the NORML Foundation, stated in a June 6, 2005 article posted to the NORML website:

"While we are disappointed with the Court's decision, the bottom line is that state and local laws protecting medicinal cannabis patients and their physicians remain in place and are unaffected by this ruling...

The Court's decision today underscores the need for Congress to amend federal law to recognize cannabis' therapeutic utility.... it's time for the federal government to butt out of doctors' decisions regarding which medicine is the most safe and effective for their patients."

June 6, 2005 - Allen St. Pierre 

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) staff attorney Allen Hopper, stated in a June 6, 2005 article posted to the ACLU website:

"The power of state governments to enact and enforce state medical marijuana laws is not affected by the Supreme Court's ruling. State laws allowing the use of medical marjuana still offer patients significant protection."

June 6, 2005 - American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 

The Los Angeles Times stated in a June 7, 2005 editorial:

"If this editorial board were Congress, we would enact a law allowing marijuana to be used for legitimate medical purposes... But we are not Congress -- and neither is the Supreme Court. So we cannot be terribly offended by Monday's ruling, however much needless suffering it may cause. Blame for that suffering now lies squarely with Congress and the president. The nation's draconian drug laws have lost a safety valve."

June 7, 2005 - Los Angeles Times 

The New York Times stated in a June 8, 2005 editorial:

"We read the Supreme Court's decision on the medicinal use of marijuana with mixed emotions. We certainly wish that the Justice Department could be weaned from the gross misuse of the federal Controlled Substances Act that led to its campaign against the use of marijuana by terminally ill people in the 11 states where it is legal for doctors to prescribe it. But we take very seriously the court's concern about protecting the Commerce Clause, the vital constitutional principle that has allowed the federal government to thwart evils like child labor and segregation....

To stop the Justice Department from pursuing this ideological obsession, Congress should amend the law to specifically exempt prescribed marijuana. It should not be a partisan issue; both red and blue states have laws allowing the medicinal use of marijuana."

June 8, 2005 - New York Times 

The Washington Post stated in a June 8, 2005 editorial:

"[T]he true importance of Raich has nothing to do with drugs; it relates rather to the balance of power between the federal government and the states. The government's crusade against medical marijuana is a misguided use of anti-drug resources; that doesn't mean it's unconstitutional. A Supreme Court decision disallowing federal authority in this area would have been a disaster in areas ranging from civil rights enforcement to environmental protection."

June 8, 2005 - Washington Post 

Montel Williams, talk show host, stated in a June 8, 2005 interview with FOX News:

"It's so stupid [the Supreme Court ruling]. We've turned something that is really a medical issue between a patient and a doctor into a political issue, and should put this back in the hands of doctors.

Our own government studies have proven its efficacy. Our own government continues to dispense it. How ridiculously stupid is it for our country to say 'there are seven people who can find relief from their pain or their illness, but the rest of you be damned.' I'm a taxpayer and I'm sorry, I don't buy this."

June 8, 2005 - Montel Williams 

CON (no)

John Walters, Director of the White House Office of Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), stated on June 6, 2005:

"Today's decision marks the end of medical marijuana as a political issue.

Our nation has the highest standards and most sophisticated institutions in the world for determining the safety and effectiveness of medication. Our national medical system relies on proved scientific research, not popular opinion. To date, science and research have not determined that smoking marijuana is safe or effective."

June 6, 2005 - John P. Walters 

US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent in charge Javier Pena stated in a July 28, 2005 article "Bush's War on Pot" published in Rolling Stone magazine:

"We can't disregard the federal law. The Supreme Court reiterates that we have the power to enforce the federal drug laws -- even if they are not popular. We're going to continue to do that."

July 28, 2005 - US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) 

Robert L. DuPont, MD, psychiatrist, former White House Drug Czar, and co-author of an amicus brief in this case supporting the Bush administration, stated in a June 6, 2005 article by Todd Zwillich on WebMD:

"For a hundred years, we have worked out a system that is designed to protect the public health based on efficacy and safety.  The idea that you would have medicines approved by ballot initiative is really frightening to me in terms of public health."

June 6, 2005 - Robert L. DuPont, MD 

US Representative Mark Souder (R-IN), Chairman of the House Drug Policy Committee, stated on June 6, 2005 in a statement posted to his website:

"I applaud the Supreme Court’s common sense decision. Our federal drug laws are designed to ensure that we have uniform, scientifically-based national health and safety standards for drugs and medicines. We cannot allow the state initiative process to undermine those standards on the basis of political -- not scientific -- arguments.

Legitimate claims about the medical uses for any drug can and should be made within the context of the federal Food and Drug Administration’s drug-approval process. Denying the federal government the power to set and enforce uniform standards would simply open up an alternative route for illegal drug trafficking and abuse."

June 6, 2005 - Mark Souder 

Drug Free Kids: America's Challenge's founder and President, Joyce Nalepka, stated in a June 8, 2005 article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"I'm just appalled that any members of Congress would vote to legalize marijuana. What amazes me is that there are so many people who can get elected to federal office and be so ill-informed."

June 8, 2005 - Drug Free Kids: America's Challenge 

The Drug Free America Foundation stated in a June 8, 2005 article on its website, "Raich v. Ashcroft Decision a Win for US":

"The real issue here is that the advocates of medical excuse marijuana have stated they are trying to get marijuana accepted as 'medicine' as part of a larger effort to legalize marijuana. Hopefully now this will be the end of medical excuse marijuana as a political issue."

June 8, 2005 - Drug Free America Foundation