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Court Cases



Constitutionality of Prohibition

    • Ravin v. State, 537 P.2d 494 (Alaska 1975)

    • Alaska v. McNeil, No. 1KE-93-947 CR (Alaska Superior Court, October 29, 1993)

    • NORML v. Bell, 488 F.Supp. 123 (D.D.C. 1980)


21 U.S.C.A. 801
Title 21 United States Code Annotated (West Publishing) Section 801

Notes of Decisions

1.  Constitutionality

     Congress may constitutionally regulate intrastate criminal cultivation of marijuana plants found rooted in the soil.  U.S. v. Visman, C.A.9 (Cal.) 1990, 919 F.2d 1390, certiorari denied 112 S.Ct. 442, 502 U.S. 969, 116 L.Ed.2d 460.

     Statutes making it illegal to manufacture, distribute or dispense, or to possess with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense, controlled substance or to simply possess controlled substance unless substance was obtained legally are not unconstitutional under commerce clause; Congress has made specific findings that illegal drugs affect interstate commerce.  U.S. v. Bramble, D.Hawai'i 1995, 894 F.Supp. 1384.

     Fact that Congress has made no legislative finding of effect on interstate commerce with respect to phenmetrazine does not render this subchapter unconstitutional insofar as it prohibits possession of phenmetrazine.  U. S. v. Davis, 1977, 561 F.2d 1014, 183 U.S.App.D.C. 121, certiorari denied 98 S.Ct. 416, 434 U.S. 929, 54 L.Ed.2d 290.

     This chapter was not shown to be unconstitutional as lacking any reasoned justification for prohibition of commercial distribution of marijuana.  U. S. v. Kiffer, C.A.N.Y.1973, 477 F.2d 349, certiorari denied 94 S.Ct. 62, 165, 414 U.S. 831, 38 L.Ed.2d 65.

     This chapter is not unconstitutional because it fails to require proof of specific connection between the prohibited drugs and interstate commerce as a prerequisite for conviction.  U. S. v. Leisner, C.A.Fla.1972, 469 F.2d 336, certiorari denied 93 S.Ct. 1367, 1374, 410 U.S. 942, 35 L.Ed.2d 609.

     Congress acted within its commerce power when it enacted this chapter.  U. S. v. Lopez, C.A.Fla.1972, 459 F.2d 949, certiorari denied 93 S.Ct. 130, 409 U.S. 878, 34 L.Ed.2d 131.

     Former provisions of section 331 of this title prohibiting sale, delivery or other disposition of drug in violation of former section 360a of this title proscribing sale, delivery and disposal of stimulant or depressant drugs except to exempted persons and former provisions of section 331 of this title prohibiting possession of drug in violation of former section 360a of this title proscribing possession of depressant or stimulant drugs except for exempt persons were not unconstitutional as beyond power delegated to Congress under U.S.C.A.Const. Art. 1, 8, cl. 3.  U. S. v. Lamear, C.A.Mo.1969, 417 F.2d 626, certiorari denied 90 S.Ct. 1004, 397 U.S. 967, 25 L.Ed.2d 259.

     Former provisions of section 331 of this title relating to possession and selling of amphetamine tablets and dispensing counterfeit tablets were not unconstitutional as applied to defendant who claimed there was no evidence that his acts were done in interstate commerce.  U. S. v. Cerrito, C.A.Ill.1969, 413 F.2d 1270, certiorari denied 90 S.Ct. 554, 396 U.S. 1004, 24 L.Ed.2d 495.

     Former provisions of section 331 of this title prohibiting sale or possession for sale of hallucinogenic drug were based on sufficient and rational predicate and did not exceed power of Congress under U.S.C.A.Const. Art. 1, 8, cl. 3.  U. S. v. Heiman, C.A.Cal.1969, 406 F.2d 767.

     Former provisions of section 331 of this title proscribing sale of depressant or stimulant drug did not exceed power delegated to Congress under U.S.C.A.Const. Art. 1, 8, cl. 3 even though it was not expressly limited, or intended to be limited, to transactions specifically found to be in, mingled with, or affecting interstate commerce.  White v. U. S., C.A.Mass.1968, 395 F.2d 5, certiorari denied 89 S.Ct. 260, 393 U.S. 928, 21 L.Ed.2d 266.

     The antidelegation doctrine was not violated by this chapter which gave to Attorney General authority to effectuate the scheduling of phendimetrazine and phentermine as controlled substances, notwithstanding fact that the Attorney General is chief prosecutorial officer of nation.  U. S. v. Pastor, D.C.N.Y.1976, 419 F.Supp. 1318.

     Statutory restrictions upon power of Attorney General under this chapter to add drugs to list of controlled substances were sufficient to ensure that his authority would be exercised in fashion which was both subject to public and judicial scrutiny as well as grounded in scientific evidence, and the delegation of such authority could not be held to violate due process.  Id.

     Marijuana transfer tax imposed under former section 4741 et seq. of Title 26 did not constitute impermissible burden upon exercise of right under U.S.C.A.Const. Amend. 5 to avoid self-incrimination by person against whom tax was assessed.  Widdis v. U. S., D.C.Alaska 1974, 395 F.Supp. 1015.

     Cocaine sellers were not denied equal protection by reason of the fact that this chapter treats sellers of cocaine more severely than sellers of amphetamines for penalty purposes.  U. S. v. Brookins, D.C.N.J.1974, 383 F.Supp. 1212, affirmed 524 F.2d 1404.

     Traffic in controlled substances was not beyond power of Congress to regulate.  U. S. v. Sledge, D.C.Wis.1972, 346 F.Supp. 485.

     To determine whether Congress has power to control sale of stimulant or depressant drugs in general or even in situations were no part of particular transaction involves interstate commerce, it is necessary to know whether traffic in such drugs so affects interstate commerce, or exertion of power of Congress over it, as to make regulation of drugs appropriate means to attainment of legitimate end or exerts substantial economic effect on interstate commerce, or whether such activity does not affect other states and need not be interfered with for purpose of executing general powers of government.  U. S. v. Erlin, D.C.Cal.1968, 283 F.Supp. 396, affirmed 413 F.2d 1036.

     Former section 188 et seq. of this title controlling the domestic production and distribution of the opium poppy was directed to the growth of opium yielding poppy plants as the source, not of an edible food product, but rather of raw opium, and its constitutionality depended upon congressional authority to regulate the supply source of raw opium and not upon authority to regulate a food product.  Stutz v. Bureau of Narcotics of Department of Treasury of U. S., D.C.Cal.1944, 56 F.Supp. 810.

7.  Intrastate distribution of controlled substances

     Congressional finding under prior provisions that use of stimulant or depressant drugs when not under supervision of licensed practioner often endangered safety on highways including interstate traffic thereon was a sufficient basis for proposition that intrastate distribution of such drugs exerted substantial effect on interstate commerce.  U. S. v. Erlin, D.C.Cal.1968, 283 F.Supp. 396, affirmed 413 F.2d 1036.


Civil Punishment


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