The Rehnquist Court (1986–2005)


Did Congress exceed its powers when it passed a law banning controlled substances such as marijuana?

No, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Congress did not exceed its constitutionality authority under the Commerce Clause when it passed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). In the 2005 decision Gonzalez v. Raich, the Court addressed the constitutionality of this federal law in the context of a California ballot initiative that decriminalized medical marijuana usage. The majority wrote that “we have no difficulty concluding that Congress had a rational basis for believing that failure to regulate the intrastate manufacture and possession of marijuana would leave a gaping hole in the CSA.”


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