Marijuana: Alaska Governor Plotting Against Marijuana Again, Eyes 2006 Session 6/3/05

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http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/389/murkowski.shtml

Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) is addicted to re-criminalizing marijuana. Defeated in the Alaska courts, which have ruled that the possession of up to a quarter pound of pot by adults in one's home in protected by the state constitution's privacy provisions, and shot down in the legislature, which declined this year to enact his bills which would have made marijuana once again illegal in Alaska, the never-say-die governor and his prohibitionist appointees are vowing to pursue them next year in the second half of the legislature's biennial session.

Frank Murkowski and John Walters
Murkowski and his allies hope to use the bills as a means of eventually returning the issue to the courts. In the landmark 1975 decision in Ravin v. Alaska, the state Supreme Court held that "there is no firm evidence that marijuana, as presently used in this country, is generally a danger to the user or to others," but added that its decision could be revised if new information showing a substantial negative relationship between marijuana use and the public welfare could be established.

In hearings on the bills earlier this year, Murkowski and his supporters attempted to create a body of evidence suggesting that today's marijuana is somehow more harmful than the weed of yesteryear. The bills explicitly stated that part of its purpose was to hear "expert testimony on the effects of marijuana and to make findings that the courts can rely on in cases where marijuana is an issue."

Chief Assistant Attorney General Dean Guaneli was peddling that line anew this week to the Associated Press. "We believe the courts are going to give that information great weight when another case comes before them that challenges the state's marijuana laws," he said Wednesday.

But if the legislative record is to be the basis of an Alaskan court decision, it will not be a one-sided record, thanks to the efforts of local activists allied with the Marijuana Policy Project, who combined to provide countervailing testimony to the prohibitionist's talk of "not your father's marijuana" and "what about the kids?"

While marijuana remains legal in Alaska, it is clear that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. With the foes of legal marijuana showing no signs of giving up, it looks like Alaska will be both vanguard and battleground in the marijuana wars for years to come.

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Issue #389 -- 6/3/05

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