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Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative
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*Case Brief Anatomy includes: Brief Prologue, Complete Case Brief, Brief Epilogue
- The Brief Prologue provides necessary case brief introductory information and includes:
- Topic: Identifies the topic of law and where this case fits within your course outline.
- Parties: Identifies the cast of characters involved in the case.
- Procedural Posture & History: Shares the case history with how lower courts have ruled on the matter.
- Case Key Terms, Acts, Doctrines, etc.: A case specific Legal Term Dictionary.
- Case Doctrines, Acts, Statutes, Amendments and Treatises: Identifies and Defines Legal Authority used in this case.
- The Case Brief is the complete case summarized and authored in the traditional Law School I.R.A.C. format. The Pro case brief includes:
- Brief Facts: A Synopsis of the Facts of the case.
- Rule of Law: Identifies the Legal Principle the Court used in deciding the case.
- Facts: What are the factual circumstances that gave rise to the civil or criminal case? What is the relationship of the Parties that are involved in the case. Review the Facts of this case here:
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA), 21 U.S.C. § 801et seq., forbids the manufacture and distribution of certain drugs, including marijuana. The statute categorizes drugs under five schedules and imposes restrictions on each substance according to its schedule classification. A substance will only be included in schedule I if the substance has no currently accepted medical use. For marijuana and other schedule I drugs, the only exception to the restrictions is for government-approved research projects. In 1996, California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, which established an exception to California’s prohibitions on marijuana possession and cultivation for a patient’s medical purposes as approved by a physician. In response, Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative (Defendant) organized a medical-cannabis dispensary to serve eligible patients. The United States sued Defendant, seeking to enjoin Defendant from distributing and manufacturing marijuana. The government argued that Defendant’s activities violated CSA. The district court granted the injunction, but Defendant continued to distribute marijuana. The government initiated contempt proceedings. Defendant defended itself on the ground that the distributions were medically necessary, requesting modification of the injunction to include a medical-necessity exemption. The district court denied the motion and held Defendant in contempt after finding insufficient evidence that each patient was in actual danger of imminent harm without the drug. The court then modified the injunction, empowering the government to seize Defendant’s property. Defendant appealed but later voluntarily mooted the contempt proceeding by promising compliance with the initial injunction. A live controversy still existed in the court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to amend the injunction, and the court of appeals considered the merits of the issue and reversed, holding that medical necessity was a legally cognizable defense under the circumstances. The case was remanded to the district court to consider the criteria for a medical-necessity exemption. The district court subsequently granted Defendant’s motion to modify the injunction to incorporate a medical-necessity defense. The government petitioned for a writ of certiorari to review the court of appeal’s decision. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.
- Issue(s): Lists the Questions of Law that are raised by the Facts of the case.
- Holding: Shares the Court's answer to the legal questions raised in the issue.
- Concurring / Dissenting Opinions: Includes valuable concurring or dissenting opinions and their key points.
- Reasoning and Analysis: Identifies the chain of argument(s) which led the judges to rule as they did.
- The Brief Prologue closes the case brief with important forward-looking discussion and includes:
- Policy: Identifies the Policy if any that has been established by the case.
- Court Direction: Shares where the Court went from here for this case.