The Alaska Supreme Court reaffirmed its groundbreaking 1975 decision barring the state from criminalizing the possession of up to four ounces of marijuana in the privacy of one's home on September 9, when it denied a petition from state Attorney General Greg Renkes asking it to overturn a Court of Appeals ruling from a little more than a year ago. In that case, Noy v. Alaska, the Court of Appeals relied on the state Supreme Court's 1975 ruling in Ravin v. Alaska (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/301/alaska.shtml).
Although the state Supreme Court had held in Ravin that the state could not penalize the possession of up to four ounces at home, Alaskans voted in 1990 for an initiative making it illegal to possess any quantity of marijuana. That situation obtained until challenged by David Noy, a North Pole resident who was found guilty of a sixth-degree misdemeanor after police searched his home and found five pot plants. In Noy, the appeals court held that voters could not overturn the Ravin decision and any law criminalizing home possession for personal use was invalid.
"Noy basically restored Ravin and reaffirmed the right to privacy," said attorney Bill Satterberg, who filed the appeal. "People don't realize the purpose of the court is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority," he told the Associated Press. "I'm certainly encouraged that we've recognized we're dealing with constitutional right regardless of your personal preferences," Satterberg said. "I'm glad to see the court not succumb to political pressure."
But more political pressure could be coming. Attorney General Renkes has vowed to soldier on. "We're not giving up," Renkes said. He added that he will try to convince the state legislature that marijuana is so harmful it should approve a constitutional amendment allowing the state to ban it. It's more powerful and it's a gateway drug, he argued.
"I'm really appalled that it appears some people are still fighting the culture war of the 1970s," Renkes said as he continued to fight the culture war of the 1970s. "To me it's all about the kids and what kind of message we're sending to our kids," he added.
Alaska voters have a chance to make it a moot point in November --an initiative on the ballot, if successful will give the voters' stamp of approval not only to home possession, but for regulated cultivation and distribution as well. Read about the initiative, the Cannabis Decriminalization and Regulation Act at http://www.alaskahemp.org/initiativetext.htm online.