Court Chooses Privacy Over Pot

  Court Chooses Privacy Over Pot

Posted by CN Staff on September 14, 2004 at 08:57:43 PT
By Beth Ipsen, Staff Writer 
Source: News-Miner  

The Alaska Supreme Court denied on Thursday a petition by the state attorney general's office seeking reconsideration of a decision allowing personal marijuana in the home.The Supreme Court upheld last year's Court of Appeal unanimous ruling in Noy v. State of Alaska that solidified the argument a person's constitutional right to privacy is greater than a voter initiative making marijuana illegal.
The Court of Appeals decision was based largely upon a controversial 1975 Alaska Supreme Court opinion handed down in Ravin v. State allowing adults to possess marijuana for personal use in their home.In 1990, voters passed an initiative on a 55 to 44 percent tally making it illegal to possess any amount of marijuana, but last year the appeals court not only ruled voters didn't have the authority to change the state constitution, but defined 4 ounces or less of marijuana as permissible for personal use at home. "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."The ruling closes a case that began when North Pole police and drug agents arrested David Noy at his Parkway Road house July 27, 2001.A North Pole police officer contended he detected the smell of marijuana emitting from Noy's house while Noy and a group of people were outside barbecuing salmon. Law enforcement searched the residence and found five live pot plants, growing equipment, some loose marijuana and paraphernalia, according to court documents.A jury convicted Noy of misdemeanor sixth-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance and Satterberg appealed the conviction, paving the way to proving Alaska has some of the most liberal marijuana laws and strongest right to privacy sentiments in the nation."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 that may be the next step Attorney General Gregg Renkes takes. "We're not giving up," Renkes said.He'll be taking his case to the legislature where he'll try to prove marijuana is a harmful enough drug to warrant amending the constitution."The state has been denied an opportunity to present a record of the harmfulness of marijuana," Renkes said. "The exception of privacy at home does not extend to cocaine because the state has proven it's harmful. It outweighs the right to privacy."Renkes said marijuana has an increased potency compared to almost 30 years ago when the Ravin case was decided, making it more addictive and more susceptible to be an avenue to harder drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamines--highly addictive drugs that in many cases produce extreme, violent behavior."I'm really appalled that it appears some people are still fighting the culture war of the 1970s," he said.He's also disappointed the Supreme Court took eight months to decide and didn't give an explanation why he won't get the chance to prove his case in court when it issued its brief denial."To me it's all about the kids and what kind of message we're sending to our kids," Renkes said.Last year's appeals court decision also gave numerous defendants and lawyers another case to cite besides the Ravin case when fighting to dismiss drug charges.It has already been used in a Homer man's argument his home was illegally searched just because law enforcement detected the smell of marijuana coming from his house.Leo Crocker Jr. argued his home should have not been searched because police couldn't adequately prove he had more than the amount allowed for personal use--4 ounces--in his home when they served a warrant and discovered a grow operation.The felony drug charges of against Crocker were dropped when the court decided to suppress the evidence obtained with the search warrant.The appeals court upheld the court's decision Aug. 27, but Renkes foresees asking the supreme court to take a look at this ruing as well."It virtually prohibits us from getting search warrants to investigate marijuana home-growing cases," Renkes said. "The court's saying we have to have evidence to the amount of marijuana in the operation."It may be a moot point if voters pass a ballot initiative Nov. 2 making it legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess marijuana whether for consumption or distribution.This initiative, according to its chief architect Tim Hinterberger, is a more streamlined version of one that was defeated in 2000."This initiative specially calls on legislature to regulate marijuana like alcohol," said Hinterberger, an associate professor of the biomedical program at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The Cannabis Decriminalization and Regulation Act opens the door for legislature to levy taxes and potentially providing revenue for the state, Hinterberger said."Alaska clearly has values of independence and responsibility and fairness that are different than the rest of the country," he said. "Clearly marijuana prohibition doesn't work, everyone knows that and it's time to try and find a different way."Renkes said if Ballot Initiative No. 2 passes, it sends the wrong message to residents and specifically children in a state that already has a high rate of substance abuse."In a state that has the highest addiction rates in the country and spends more money in the country on drug prevention," Renkes said, "The last thing Alaskans can afford is permissive drug use."Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)Author:  Beth Ipsen, Staff WriterPublished: Tuesday, September 14, 2004 Copyright: 2004 Fairbanks Publishing Company, Inc.Contact: letters newsminer.comWebsite: Related Articles & Web Site:Alaska H.E.M.P. Court Narrows Marijuana Search Law Appeals Legal Pot Ruling to Vote on Pot Legalization in '04 Court: Drug Ban Unconstitutional 

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Comment #14 posted by Shortpier on September 15, 2004 at 02:32:43 PT:
Prohibition in Alaska...Another Story Anchorage
Justices uphold right to use pot 
STATE RULING: Federal anti-drug laws on possession remain in place.
Anchorage Daily News 
(Published: September 15, 2004) 
 The Alaska Supreme Court has upheld the right of adult Alaskans to possess up to four ounces of marijuana in their homes for personal use. The high court accomplished this by letting stand a lower court opinion issued last year, which breathed life into a 1975 ruling thought by many to be obsolete. Attorney General Gregg Renkes and Fairbanks defense attorney Bill Satterberg agreed Tuesday that the four-ounce personal-use allowance is now indisputably the law, although it does not immunize Alaskans against federal drug statutes. If this sounds like the end of the matter, don't be fooled. Alaskans have been arguing about marijuana for 30 years, and this is just the latest "final" ruling. The 1975 decision, known as Ravin v. State, concluded that Alaskans' constitutional right to privacy outweighs any social harm that might be caused by at-home use of small amounts of marijuana. The Alaska Constitution has a special guarantee of privacy from government interference, one not included in the federal Constitution. The Ravin decision says the right is not absolute but concludes the state has to jump some pretty high hurdles to justify interfering with what a person does to him or herself in his or her own home. The state failed to prove that possessing a small amount of marijuana for private, adult, at-home use justified such interference, the justices said nearly 30 years ago. "The state cannot impose its own notions of morality, propriety, or fashion on individuals when the public has no legitimate interest in the affairs of those individuals," Ravin says. The decision expressed disapproval of marijuana use and upheld laws against the sale, distribution, driving under the influence, use by minors or use outside the home thereof. "It is the responsibility of every individual to consider carefully the ramifications for himself and for those around him of using such substances. With the freedom which our society offers to each of us to order our lives as we see fit goes the duty to live responsibly," Ravin said. Ravin did not mention a specific amount, but in 1982 the Legislature said anything under four ounces would be considered a personal-use stash, absent any evidence of sales or distribution. Ravin remained the law in Alaska until 1990, when voters passed an initiative outlawing all amounts of marijuana. The initiative appeared to "overturn" Ravin, and law enforcement around the state began prosecuting people for possession of small amounts. One of those people was David Noy of North Pole. According to Satterberg, his attorney, Noy was arrested after police reported they could smell his five marijuana plants in his home from 300 feet away. A jury convicted him of possession of less than eight ounces. Satterberg appealed the conviction, arguing among other points that the 1990 initiative recriminalizing small amounts of marijuana was illegal. The Court of Appeals agreed. The exception for personal use at home was based on a constitutional right, which could not be taken away by the Legislature or a ballot initiative, the court said in an Aug. 29, 2003, decision. With the renewal of Ravin, Alaska joins 11 other states that have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana for personal use, although many of those still fine people for possession, according to Kris Kane, assistant director of NORML, a national organization seeking regulated legalization of the drug. Renkes doesn't think Alaska should be in that select group. The world of drugs and addiction has changed in the 30 years since Ravin was decided, he said Tuesday. The balancing test between privacy rights and the harm that drugs do needs to be re-examined in light of the new information, he said. "I respect and will abide by" the Ravin/Noy ruling, Renkes said. "We're going to try to write a law the Supreme Court would uphold," he said. "We're going to take a fairly methodical approach." Renkes said he envisions extensive legislative hearings, laying out a complete record of the importance of anti-marijuana laws and the damage done by legalizing even small amounts. Should the Legislature pass a new law, and should it be challenged, the courts would have a complete record on which to base a new decision, he said. People familiar with drug prosecutions said the Ravin/Noy ruling probably won't have much effect on who goes to jail. People are almost never charged only with possession in their home of less than four ounces, said Anchorage attorney Karen Bretz, who has defended drug cases in the Mat-Su. Most of her cases deal with larger amounts, she said. "I think it will encourage the police to use their resources for more productive things than prosecuting marijuana cases," Bretz said. Renkes and Jason Brandeis, staff attorney for the Alaska Civil Liberties Union, both warned that possession of marijuana is still against federal law. "The feds can break into your house if you have an ounce of marijuana, and you can be charged federally," Brandeis said. Renkes said the state does not intend to feed the names of home-use suspects to the feds for prosecution, but state law enforcement will continue to work closely with federal agencies on drug cases that interest both entities, he said, regardless of the amount of drugs involved. Lawyers said the Ravin/Noy ruling does not appear to affect a November ballot initiative that removes all civil and criminal penalties for adult growth, possession and sale of marijuana and proposes regulation similar to alcohol controls. Daily News reporter Sheila Toomey can be reached at stoomey 
Justices uphold right to use pot
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Comment #13 posted by The GCW on September 14, 2004 at 14:20:41 PT

YES, Alaska
"To me it's all about the kids and what kind of message we're sending to our kids," (ME TOO, SWATSTIKA dude. It’s about not caging kids who choose to use this plant. Protecting the children is Our goal, not prohibitionists.)420The Bush wife used to sell pot? That infuriates Me to think this B is supporting caging Her sisters for doing the same thing.What a gross woman.

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Comment #12 posted by FoM on September 14, 2004 at 13:59:58 PT

I'm not sure why more news isn't being done on what might happen in Alaska. I wish I knew. Maybe they don't want people to know. It took days for this article to be posted. The ruling was on Thursday and the article was only posted on Tuesday. This is big news so I'm just not sure. 
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Comment #11 posted by Shortpier on September 14, 2004 at 13:29:12 PT:

Prohibition in Alaska
I am an Alaskan, WE dont vote for Attorney General here... He is Appointed By the Governor. At this time we have a FULLY prohibitonist Executive Branch here. When our Lt. Gov was in the legislature He took the MMJ that the people passed and lobotomized it to only a few condidtions... They put in a a way to add others BUT NOT ONE HAS BEEN ADDED SINCE 1998. Our attorney general says that since state law wont let him attack  cannabis he keeps asking the feds and telling local prohibitonist City attorneys to keep busting people and then ask the feds to take the case. Is this not Cirumventinting State law? What can we do up here? VOTE on NOV 2 is about all we can do.  We need more info out to the public up here... You dont here nothing about the upcomming vote in any news or even websites up here. If I was not following these stories do to my own needs for MMJ (that I cant get cause I dont have one of the limited conditions you can get it for, and to find a doctor willing to place his practice on the line up here is almost impossible (still looking)). To be precise I am going to a doctor today for narcotic pain killers (That I HATE) but what can a guy do to survive?Shortpier
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on September 14, 2004 at 12:21:27 PT

What Happened To Their Web Site?
I was checking the link and it isn't the same web site anymore unless they didn't want to keep it up.Free Hemp in Alaska:
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Comment #9 posted by Taylor121 on September 14, 2004 at 12:12:34 PT

This it it
This is better news than I'm used to. There is no where to go now except the state legislator, where the Marijuana Policy Project will be waiting for them :)There is no escape. Our message of sanity is becoming a reality. 
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Comment #8 posted by CorvallisEric on September 14, 2004 at 11:36:25 PT

Old nag Eric says
Anyone sending email to this clown, please be respectful. Doing otherwise will only become part of his "evidence" against us.
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Comment #7 posted by Max Flowers on September 14, 2004 at 11:02:11 PT

Sam Adams
Well said! That is exactly right. What a frickin' dumbass Nazi this Renkes is. I think I feel the need to send him a special email...
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Comment #6 posted by Max Flowers on September 14, 2004 at 10:59:18 PT

Go Alaska
This is pretty encouraging news... I hope it indicates an approaching trend toward liberty and privacy, as enshrined in the Constitution. If Alaska passes the initiative in November, it will be an historic advance in the cause of personal freedom and choice, outshining even CA's status as perhaps the most cannabis-friendly state.
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on September 14, 2004 at 10:56:58 PT

He just loves losing! Thank you sir may I have another!Legislators are probably breathing a sigh of relief, oh, the courts dealt with this, I'm off the hook. Now this annoying fascist is knocking on the door - sure buddy, I'll go out on a limb to screw 30% of the population (pot smokers) while also sacrificing my political capital in a anti-judiciary jihad. Good luck pal!
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Comment #4 posted by Max Flowers on September 14, 2004 at 10:53:57 PT

Drug growers?!? (re: comment #3)
 - Detectives don't know whether the two marijuana crops are connected. They also do not know who planted the 1,000 plants found Thursday. Finding the drug growers can be extremely difficult, Flood said. - Drug growers? What a moronic phrase. Drugs are refined or synthesized compounds. Plants are plants. A PLANT IS NOT A DRUG!Saying "drug growers" makes about as much sense as saying "broccoli chemists"
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Comment #3 posted by dongenero on September 14, 2004 at 10:29:10 PT

another piece of news
Police find acre of pot
Crop on reservation worth about $1 million
By Katherine Schiffner
The Everett HeraldTULALIP - Police on Thursday found an estimated $1 million worth of marijuana plants growing in a wooded area on the Tulalip Indian Reservation.The 1,000-plant marijuana garden covered about an acre south of Spee-Bi-Dah beach, Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force Sgt. John Flood said.Thick underbrush and fallen trees made the plants impossible to spot from Marine Drive, but the bright green leaves were easily visible from the air, Flood said.The outdoor garden was the first discovered by the task force in a four-day helicopter search around the county. The sweep was funded in part by a $23,000 federal grant.Most of the marijuana plants were half-grown, but several topped 10 feet. Marijuana takes three to four months to mature."They weren't to the point they could sell this stuff, but they were close," detective Sgt. Jim Duffy said.The crop appeared to be carefully tended. Hundreds of feet of garden hose fed by a nearby creek kept the plants watered, and several trees were cut down to ensure that the marijuana received plenty of sunlight.The growers "definitely put a lot of work into fertilizing and watering the plants. They took some time to plan this out," Duffy said.A team of task force detectives and Tulalip Tribes police officers used a machete to hack a path to the marijuana plants.Police pulled out the plants and stuffed them in large burlap bags normally used for coffee beans. The plants were bound for destruction.The task force finds only about 10 percent of all marijuana grown outdoors in Snohomish County, Flood said, and he feared they would spot even less this year.The warm summer weather likely led to an earlier harvest, he said. But the grow found Thursday easily topped 2003's total of about 250 plants."This is considered a huge success," Flood said.The Tulalip Reservation's dense woods are among the places in the county most often used by drug growers trying to hide their clandestine crops.Police found a small outdoor growing operation on the reservation during its sweep last year. And last week, Tulalip Tribes Police Chief Jay Goss discovered an indoor marijuana-growing operation while investigating a burglary.Detectives don't know whether the two marijuana crops are connected. They also do not know who planted the 1,000 plants found Thursday. Finding the drug growers can be extremely difficult, Flood said.The task force continues its search for outdoor marijuana today.Reporter Katherine Schiffner: 425-339-3436 or schiffner
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Comment #2 posted by dongenero on September 14, 2004 at 10:21:49 PT

excerpt from Kitty Kelley's book
Both George and Laura used to go down to the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands to visit Laura’s college roommate Jane Clark and her boyfriend, the former baseball great Sandy Koufax. Elsewhere on the island, the Bushes used to attend and enjoy heavy pot-smoking parties. This was not inconsistent with Laura’s past. She graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1968 and had been known in her college days as a go-to girl for dime bags of marijuana. “She not only smoked dope,” said public relations executive Robert Nash, an Austin friend of many in Laura’s SMU class, “but she sold dope.”
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Comment #1 posted by siege on September 14, 2004 at 10:13:53 PT

Time to vote out Attorney General Gregg Renkes. Renkes Are you on Bush's gravy Train?? the Dollars to the state for illegal drug arrested are going away. so your pockets are not so deep any more to do harm to the people. Alaska Supreme Court protects constitutional right to privacy, and denied the illegal Federal govt. over the State's rights and laws. 
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