Canada may not be the only northern jurisdiction moving toward an embarrassingly tolerant policy regarding marijuana use. In Alaska, where private possession of several ounces was legal for a decade and a half, a judge has ruled that it still is.
In the 1975 case Ravin v. State, the Alaska Supreme Court concluded that the right to privacy guaranteed by the state constitution included possession of marijuana in one's home, provided the amount did not exceed the threshold for "intent to deliver"–four ounces at the time, since raised to eight ounces. A 1990 voter initiative ostensibly overturned that decision, recriminalizing possession for personal use. But on June 25 Superior Court Judge Richard Savell ruled that voters did not have the authority to override the constitution.
The decision, reported on Friday by the Fairbanks News-Miner, threw out the conviction of 42-year-old Scott A. Thomas, who was charged with growing pot at his home in Fairbanks last summer. A jury had found him guilty of misdemeanor possession involving 2.6 ounces of marijuana.
"A direct conflict in the law exists between the right to privacy guaranteed under the Alaska Constitution and the statutory prohibition," Savell concluded, adding, "Ravin stands."