Justice Stevens encouraged patients who felt they needed medical
marijuana to explore other legal options and advocate changing
federal marijuana laws.
"But perhaps even more important than these legal avenues
is the democratic process, in which the voices of voters allied
with these respondents may one day be heard in the halls of Congress,"
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the dissenting opinion for
the three judges who did not agree with the majority opinion,
arguing that states should be allowed to set their own rules.
states' core police powers have always included authority to define
criminal law and to protect the health, safety, and welfare of
their citizens," O'Connor said in a ruling that included
other states' rights advocates Chief Justice William Rehnquist
and Justice Clarence Thomas.
This case was a challenging one for conservative members of the
court who have pushed to expand states' rights in recent rulings.
They earlier invalidated federal laws dealing with gun possession
near schools and violence against women on the grounds the activity
was too local to justify federal intrusion.
O'Connor said the court was overreaching in its decision "making
it a federal crime to grow small amounts of marijuana in one's
own home for one's own medicinal use," the Associated Press
The ruling will have immediate consequences for some Californians.
"I'm going to have to be prepared to be arrested,"
plaintiff Diane Monson, who suffers from degenerative spine disease
and grows her marijuana in her backyard, told the AP.
Compiled by Annie Schleicher for NewsHour Extra