Quoth Ravin

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Yesterday, in a case brought by the ACLU of Alaska, a judge in Juneau rejected the state legislature's attempt to recriminalize private possession of small amounts of marijuana, noting that it runs afoul of a 1975 decision by the state Supreme Court. In Ravin v. State, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution's privacy clause shields possession of marijuana in the home for personal use, as long as the amount is not large enough to indicate an intent to distribute. Gov. Frank Murkowski and other proponents of recriminalization argue that marijuana today is both more dangerous than we used to think and more dangerous than it used to be, posing a threat grave enough to override privacy concerns. In yesterday's decision, Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins said only the Alaska Supreme Court can decide that circumstances have changed enough to warrant reversing Ravin. It seems unlikely that it will: In 2003 the Alaska Court of Appeals cited Ravin in overturning a conviction for possessing less than four ounces of marijuana at home, and in 2004 the Alaska Supreme Court declined to hear the state's appeal.

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  1. Are Alaskans willing to tolerate this antidemocratic, judge-made effort to make their state more attractive to the rest of us? Because I’ve been resisting my wife’s pleas to move to Anchorage for a while already.

  2. I am interested to see if the AK Supreme Court will uphold this decision as it effectively redefines a “small amount” as one ounce or less in direct conflict with Noy v. Alaska.

  3. Shelby,
    What, pray tell, leads you to think that this is “undemocratic”? The right to privacy is explictly defined in the Alaska State Constitution. Gov. Murkowski and the asshats that supported this law were trying to do an end run around my constitutionally protected rights.

  4. This ruling as predicted by every legal mind not working inside the office of Gov Murkowski.

  5. That Murkowski clan…geez. I think they need to relax, perhaps with a nice fattie.

  6. it’s sad AK’s legislature and Gov. have gotten so socially conservative

  7. “Gov. Frank Murkowski and other proponents of recriminalization argue that marijuana today is both more dangerous than we used to think and more dangerous that it used to be…”

    Take it from an old widow, that’s a bald-faced lie.

  8. When I lived in Alaska, I found the GOP there to be so oppressive that I wound up volunteering for a Democrat’s campaign.

    Of course, down here in la-la land, it’s the other way around, only both parties are vying to see who can bid closest to the statist ideal, without going over.

  9. Bright contestant #2: I pick Famous Sayings for 500 Alex.

    Alex: Nevermore

    Bright contestant #1: What did the Raven say when asked about attempts to reintroduce criminalization of pot in Alaska?

  10. i hate drug laws..but i hate legislation through the judicial branch but i hate drug laws but i hate legislation through the judicial branch…

    *head explodes

  11. Kwix:

    Relax; that was tongue-in-cheek, inspired by all the “unelected undemocratic judge” foofraw spouted on various political blogs.

  12. joshua-

    In a Constitutional Republic, the judiciary has an obligation to toss out a majoritarian decision (i.e. act of the legislature) that infringes a Constitutionally protected freedom. If the Alaska Constitution contains language that (in general, layman’s terms) protects the right to do what you want in the privacy of your own home, provided that nobody else is hurt, then the judges in Alaska have an obligation to toss out bans on personal use of marijuana.

    Suppose Congress passes a law that says “The right to keep and bear arms is hereby infringed.” Should a court uphold that law?

    And yes, I’m well aware that Congress has done such things, and the courts have not intervened. What do you think about that?

  13. Shelby,
    Sorry about that. Long day, too much coffee, sarcasm meter broken. That and I am pissed off that I missed the anti-anti-smoking rally tonight. Completely slipped my mind. I will have to make a point of writing triple LTEs this week.

    Thoreau,
    I present to you, in it’s mostly unfucked-up (see section 25 of the declaration of rights) glory, The Constitution of the State of Alaska. In particular sections 14, 19, and 22 of the Declaration of Rights.

  14. Actually it’s determinations like this that lead to impressions of judicial activism. The courts say a “privacy” in their constitution doesn’t protect “the right to do what you want in the privacy of your own home, provided that nobody else is hurt”, but rather the right to do what you want in the privacy of your own home, provided that nobody (including you) is hurt much. How much? Not enough to be a more important consideration than privacy. It’s that sort of balancing judgement one associates with legislative, not judicial, determinations, so these split-the-difference, nothing’s-absolute decisions do look like judicial activism.

  15. I present to you, in it’s mostly unfucked-up (see section 25 of the declaration of rights) glory…

    So hypothetically, I can smoke an after-sex fatty with my equally hypothetical gay lover, but I can’t marry him?

    Fucked up indeed.

  16. Well, if that’s judicial activism, bring on the activist judges. Frankly, I don’t see protecting our rights as described in our federal and state constitutions as judicial activism. I’d rather have a few judges erring on the side of individual rights than have the political sheep in the House deciding to amend the constitution to strip them away.

  17. “it’s sad AK’s legislature and Gov. have gotten so socially conservative”

    You don’t suppose there might be some sort of causal relationship between this and the flow of federal largesse Senator Ted mails home, do you?

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