B.U. Bridge

Creative Writing Program's Annual Faculty Reading, 7:30 p.m. Monday, December 6, CGS Auditorium

Week of 3 December 2004 · Vol. VIII, No. 123

Current IssueIn the NewsResearch BriefsBulletin BoardCalendarAdvertisingClassified AdsArchive

Search the Bridge

Mailing List

Contact Us


LAW prof argues before Supreme Court

By Timothy Stoddard

Randy Barnett, Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Law at the School of Law, got a chilly reception from both liberal and conservative justices as he defended the medical use of marijuana before the U.S. Supreme Court on November 29.

The high-profile case drew lively arguments from the justices, who expressed grave concerns about allowing patients in California and nine other states with “compassionate use” marijuana laws to use the drug with a physician’s consent. At issue is whether federal drug enforcement laws trump state laws. Barnett argued that since his clients use home-grown marijuana within California and make no sales or profit, the federal government has no business regulating their activity under the Controlled Substance Act, which grants federal agents authority to intervene in activities involving commerce between states.

“The Endangered Species Act makes possession of eagle feathers illegal, and it doesn’t matter whether they were obtained within a state or across the state’s borders,” Justice Antonin Scalia said. “The point is it’s impossible to tell, so it’s all illegal. Is that law unconstitutional, too?” Barnett answered, “No, because in this case, medical marijuana use has been isolated by the state of California, and it’s policed by the state.” Justice John Paul Stevens asked Barnett, “What would be the effect on interstate commerce if you win? Would the price of marijuana go up or down?” Barnett: “The effect would be trivial. If there were any effect, it would be a slight decrease in price, because some sick people would be able to withdraw from the market.”

A ruling from the high court is expected by next summer.


3 December 2004
Boston University
Office of University Relations