In 2002, Angel Raich had her home raided by federal agents who seized her six cannabis plants. At the time, medicinal cannabis was legal in California, so Raich claimed the federal government didn’t have authority to interfere with her six plants- which were obviously for personal consumption, and neither affected interstate nor intrastate commerce.

What authority did Gonzales v. Raich provide to the federal government concerning individual property rights?

  • 1
    This appears to be a question about the application of laws, not the processes which create them. I will migrate this question to Law Stack Exchange.
    – Philipp
    Aug 5, 2018 at 8:58
  • @Philipp This question is about the application of a SCOTUS decision on future legislative matters. You can see in the excellent answer below, guest271314 mentions Wickard v. Filburn and how it was a precursor to Raich. Filburn is also used for other laws, such as the Civil Rights Act- even though that has nothing to do with plants or personal consumption. I’m wondering what sort of power Congress has been given, based on the language of Raich. It seems to be in the same format as this question.
    – Cannabijoy
    Aug 5, 2018 at 15:33
  • 1
    @Joshua Agree that the question is not a purely a question of law, if only because the U.S. government by way of Congress enacted laws (CSA) stating that "marijuana" ("cannabis") has no recognized medical uses, and criminalizing cultivation of "marijuana" - politically imprisoning thousands of U.S. citizens for violating those laws - while simultaneously making the political decision to engage in research in the medical uses of cannabis and eventually applying for and being granted a patent on medical usage of cannabis compounds for political control (ownership) of cannabis technologies. Aug 5, 2018 at 15:49
  • @guest271314 I asked a question about it in META so hopefully I’ll figure out how to word my questions to keep them in Politics. I do believe this is a political question though, so hopefully it will be migrated again. I have a few questions in Law.SE that you might be interested in. Just click on my name and it will bring them up.
    – Cannabijoy
    Aug 6, 2018 at 3:30

1 Answer 1


In lay terms, the Raich case cites authority pursuant to the "Commerce Clause" of the Constitution of the United States; specifically, that the government has the power to regulate interstate commerce, to the degree that crops of individuals (whether directly or indirectly, or not at all, in commercial circulation) can be regulated by Congress, citing the Filburn case, which had nothing to do with "marijuana" or "cannabis", or "THC" or "CBD"; in essence, the government has the power to tell a private individual which crops they can cultivate or not, depending on the intent of Congress in enacting the law. The premise being that since the intent of Congress in regulating "marijuana" within the scope of the CSA was for the express purpose of maintaining higher prices (including so-called "black market" prices) for "marijuana", an individual cultivating "marijuana" which was not intended to enter the "stream of commerce" nonetheless impacted the price of the crop (or commodity) by cultivating the crop at all (i.e.g., greater supply of available product reduces the price of the product in any market, whether "black market" or not; having access to the product by means of private cultivation reduces the resources necessary to acquire the crop) - thus resulting in the overall price of the crop not being higher, thwarting the intent of Congress in regulating that specific crop or commodity.

Of importance, Congress has concluded that "marijuana" had (and still does not have) any medical purpose (various bills have been written over the years to exempt "marijuana" from Schedule I classification in the CSA; "medical marijuana" exemptions, etc.), or at least no medical purpose recognized by Congress (save for specific research done by Dr. ElSohly, and a very limited number of private individuals (patients) to consume the crops produced by Dr. ElSohly, et al. pursuant to licenses issued by a federal administrative agency).

It is interesting to note that the United States holds a (potentially defensive) patent (and has so for several years as of 2018) on various medical applications of CBD via the National Institutes of Health.

The "property rights" aspect of your inquiry can be categorized into two parts which are independent of each other, that is both actions can be ongoing simultaneously

  1. The government has the power to regulate the cultivation of any crop or commodity on private property pursuant to the Commerce Clause and the intent of Congress, irrespective of if that crop enters the stream of commerce proper or not

  2. The government can pursue medical research, apply for and be granted patents (intellectual property), by the government itself, for technologies relating to the medical use of crops or commodities defined by Congress as not having any recognized medical application (e.g., the identical crop or commodity at 1.), potentially for defensive purposes, investment in a potential future market (i.e.g., licensing of patented technologies to pharmaceutical or private equity concerns) for profit, or other undisclosed purposes

  • 1
    Related and on point is Taylor v. United States (U.S. 2016) ("The prosecution in a Hobbs Act robbery case satisfies the Act’s commerce element if it shows that the defendant robbed or attempted to rob a drug dealer of drugs or drug proceeds") supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-6166_o7jp.pdf
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 7, 2018 at 9:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .