Judge Hears Arguments Over New State Marijuana Law

Judge Hears Arguments Over New State Marijuana Law
Posted by CN Staff on July 05, 2006 at 22:38:36 PT
By Matt Volz, Associated Press Writer
Source: Associated Press
Juneau, Alaska -- Attorneys for a civil liberties group argued Wednesday that a new state law recriminalizing marijuana usurps 30 years of Alaska Supreme Court right-to-privacy decisions and should be struck down. Chief Assistant Attorney General Dean Guaneli countered that the law includes findings by the Legislature on the dangers of marijuana that were not considered when the court legalized possession of small amounts of the drug for personal use in the home.
Guaneli and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska presented their arguments to Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins, whose courtroom is the first stop in the constitutional challenge to the new law tightening Alaska's liberal marijuana policy.Both sides are asking Collins for a summary judgment ruling in their favor. In addition, the ACLU wants Collins to issue an injunction blocking the new law while the case is being decided, and the attorney general's office has asked the judge to dismiss the case.Collins said she expects to issue a written order on those motions by Monday.The law, which took effect June 3, makes marijuana possession of 4 ounces or more a felony. Possession of 1 to 4 ounces is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail; less than 1 ounce is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail.The new law does not affect medical marijuana patients who are on the state's registry.The law goes against state Supreme Court rulings that date back to 1975, when the court decided that the right to privacy in the home took precedence over possession of small amounts of marijuana. Later court decisions set the legal limit a person can possess in the home at 4 ounces.Guaneli said much has changed over the last 30 years, including the potency of marijuana, which the legislative findings document. As an example, he said the findings show marijuana consumption by pregnant women in Alaska exceed the national average - 2.9 percent of women in the nation smoke marijuana while pregnant, but 5.1 percent do in Alaska. The numbers are even higher for pregnant teens and women in rural areas, he said."The facts have changed. The facts involving marijuana are different now," Guaneli said.The ACLU has argued that many of the findings included in the bill are disputed, and the Legislature did not consider other evidence to include in its findings."The state has certainly made a lot of assertions, and the assertions they have made are not backed up by credible scientific evidence," said ACLU attorney Jason Brandeis.But disputing the Legislature's findings are not the issue here, he said.Attorney Alyse Bertenthal of the ACLU's National Drug Law Reform Project in Santa Cruz, Calif., focused her argument to the judge on the importance the Alaska Supreme Court placed on the constitutional right to privacy in its past decisions.She said allowing this law to stand would set a precedent allowing the state to pass unconstitutional laws whenever the Legislature claims the facts surrounding a disputed issue have changed."Our constitutional rights would essentially exist in a twilight zone," Bertenthal said.Bertenthal also said a superior court judge cannot overturn the decision of the Supreme Court, and if Collins does not grant summary judgment in favor of the ACLU, the judge should issue an injunction blocking the law until the Supreme Court can decide the case.Guaneli said the Legislature determined the facts through its findings, and the court's role is to determine whether those facts establish legitimate state concerns and address those concerns in a "close and substantial way." Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Matt Volz, Associated Press Writer Published: July 5, 2006 Copyright: 2006 Associated Press Related Articles & Web Site:ACLU Sues Alaska Over State's New MJ Law Files Lawsuit to Protect Privacy Rights
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Comment #14 posted by global_warming on July 06, 2006 at 12:55:42 PT
amen brother
the truth is difficult to seeespecially between commercials
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Comment #13 posted by sam adams on July 06, 2006 at 12:26:05 PT
No surprise there. All the most corrupt governments will cling to Prohibition for the longest time. Another truism: all the LARGEST governments will keep Prohibition the longest as well. The larger and more distant the body of government decision-makers, the more oppressive their laws will be. Do you think if the US government was based in Sacramento instead of DC they'd still vote by 2 to 1 to keep raiding patients in CA?Almost from the first day the EU was put together, the EU has tried to stamp out Holland's policies and push more punitive drug laws on its member nations.“The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws” - Corneilus Tacitus
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Comment #12 posted by global_warming on July 06, 2006 at 12:10:43 PT
That place that is in heart and mindYour soul is is the energy that lights and fires this place
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Comment #11 posted by global_warming on July 06, 2006 at 12:04:13 PT
do you understand
in a twinklea blink of your eyecan bring you home
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Comment #10 posted by global_warming on July 06, 2006 at 11:58:43 PT
best you learn
to bow your headthe Night starsare giving birththe jesus childrenexpect forgivenessthe rotting scumin our prisonssing and praydeeper into that infinite nightthat Infinite NightThat Night of EternityIf you have not yet caught a glimpseYour face in the mirrorLook into your eyesDo you have a twinkle?
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Comment #9 posted by global_warming on July 06, 2006 at 11:47:23 PT
and you have taken
your children into the darkest places in Gods Kingdom
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Comment #8 posted by global_warming on July 06, 2006 at 11:15:26 PT
Thanks to all the prohibitionists
you have unexpectedly ended up in Hell, thank you
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Comment #7 posted by global_warming on July 06, 2006 at 11:12:08 PT
it is a crime
even Putin has accepted and bowed to the power of the drug cartels,.. Will Not Legalize Marijuana — Putin
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Comment #6 posted by global_warming on July 06, 2006 at 10:29:06 PT
re: I so agree
I am starting to believe that this human species can never free themselves from their pettiness and small minded ways, and it this hopeless mind set that will destroy this world someday.
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Comment #5 posted by Sam Adams on July 06, 2006 at 07:53:01 PT
what a waste 
Look at all these educated people, lawyers, judges, wasting time on this. Can a person be "allowed" to have a plant in their house?  How sad that it's come to this. What are we doing? These government people should all be forced to get real jobs. Go dig a hole or something. Shine shoes. Something useful.What a strange bunch we are. Humanity, dogged by its flaws for all eternity. The more sophisticated we become, the more primitive we become.  We can send spaceships to Mars and Jupiter, but we need to jail people for growing plants?
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on July 06, 2006 at 07:41:42 PT
You've got mail.
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Comment #3 posted by Had Enough on July 06, 2006 at 06:42:14 PT
Citizens Against Government Waste
Wasted in the War on Drugs:
Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Wasted EffortsJune 26, 2006As the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), established in
1988 by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, approaches its eighteenth year of existence, it
continues to demonstrate its inability to either achieve its core objectives or
function efficiently. The fiscal 2007 budget summary for the ONDCP, providing
$245 million for the National Drug Control Strategy, proves that this year will be
business as usual for the federal government and the ONDCP.and….. Names Gov. Murkowski Porker of the MonthJanuary 20, 2006(Washington, D.C.) - Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today named Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) Porker of the Month for backing construction of the infamous “Bridges to Nowhere” and proposing a taxpayer-funded public relations campaign to repair the damage that the bridges helped inflict on Alaska’s national reputation. ………..Last week, Gov. Murkowski announced a $1.2 billion state budget surplus. He proposed spending part of that windfall to hire a public relations firm to counter the perception that Alaska politicians milk taxpayers………and…
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Comment #2 posted by mayan on July 06, 2006 at 04:44:14 PT
One Sided "Findings"
The ACLU has argued that many of the findings included in the bill are disputed, and the Legislature did not consider other evidence to include in its findings.The legislature only listened to one side. They did not have an honest debate because Murkowski's "must pass" bill would have died a quick death if they had.It ought to be entertaining watching this unconstitutional recrim law perish!In unrelated news, the hunger strike is underway...Starving for Attention - by Cindy Sheehan:
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Comment #1 posted by lombar on July 06, 2006 at 00:52:49 PT
When they...
When they bring up the impaired driving argument, consider this:Calling while driving is as dangerous as driving drunkResearchers at the University of Utah have published a study that claims drivers on cell phones are prone to more crashes than drunk drivers. Two psychology professors, David Strayer and Frank Drews, along with toxicology professor Dennis Crouch, conducted the study. 40 test subjects drove a simulated highway while undistracted, drunk and talking on a cellphone. The cell phone using drivers crashed three times,Researchers found that the drunk drivers were more aggressive and followed closer than the cell phone using drivers. They also discovered that cell phone users had significantly slower brake times at 849 ms versus 777 ms of the baseline group. Researchers suggest that cell phones make drivers more sluggish in perception and reaction, reports TG Daily."We found that when people talk on a cell phone they are as impaired as they are when they drive intoxicated at the legal blood-alcohol limit (of 0.08). It was a surprise to us." said Frank Drews, one of the Utah researchers who has published earlier studies showing drivers on the phone are at higher risk of accidents.Also to our surprise, the study supports the previous findings that there's no difference between hand-held and hands-free. "There is a (more dangerous) component when people are dialing the phone or searching for the cell phone in the briefcase on the seat beside them, but what distracts people when talking on a cell phone is the conversation, not holding the phone." he explained. {clipped}Are cellphones to be made illegal because people use them irresponisbly? Oh yeah, that standard of absolute harmlessness to-be-legal only applies to cannabis. People will be allowed to keep their phones and trusted not to use them when driving...Oddly enough, many years ago I was in an accident because the other driver was on a cellphone. I ended up hitting his back quarterpanel and he spun up on his side and was hanging down in his seat by the seatbelt, the car turned up on the passenger door side. It was an uncontrolled intersection, my right of way and I started to go after seeing nothing and all of a sudden he streaked in front of me but not ffast enough. A large hedge had blocked my ability to see where he was at the high rate of speed he was traveling when I spun him around, hitting the curb caused his car to flip up onto its side. It was quite surprising and happened in seconds.
Peoples Daily Online - Calling while driving is as dangerous as driving drunk
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