Alaska: Recrim Measure On Its Way To Governor


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Oct 22, 2005
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April 13, 2006 - Juneau, AK, USA

Juneau, AK: A legislative conference committee voted last night in favor of Senate provisions that seek to overturn a 1975 Alaska Supreme Court ruling (Ravin v. State) upholding the right of citizens to possess up to four ounces of marijuana in the privacy of their homes.

The committee decided to keep the controversial provisions -- which make the possession of less than four ounces of marijuana a misdemeanor and the possession of greater amounts a felony -- as amendments to House Bill 149, which primarily addresses the manufacturing of methamphetamine. The Alaska Senate had approved adding the anti-marijuana provisions to the bill earlier this year, but House members ordered them to withdraw the changes, arguing that they had not been properly debated by lawmakers.

House Bill 149 now returns to the House and Senate for ratification, and then to the Governor, who strongly supports the recrim measure. According to a recent telephone poll of 500 Alaskan voters, 56 percent oppose the legislature's effort.

If the bill becomes law, it will likely compel the Court to revisit its 1975 ruling. If that happens, NORML Legal Counsel Keith Stroup predicts that the Court will strike down the new law.

"The right to privacy, enshrined in the Alaska state constitution, is more important to the Court and to most Alaskans than the Governor's ill-advised war on marijuana smokers," Stroup says. In 2004, the Alaska Supreme Court rejected a petition by the state attorney general's office to reconsider a September 2003 Court of Appeals ruling finding that the possession of marijuana by adults within the home is constitutionally protected activity.


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