ACLU of Alaska Calls on Attorney General to Clarify State's Commitment to Uphold Medical Marijuana Statute

Affiliate: ACLU of Alaska
June 16, 2005 12:00 am

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JUNEAU, AK – The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska announced today that it has submitted a letter to the state attorney general’s office requesting public acknowledgment of the continued validity of the state’s medical marijuana law. The letter comes after newly appointed Alaska Attorney General David W. Márquez last week announced that the state’s medical marijuana law was under review and could be declared inoperative following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Gonzales v. Raich.

“”Alaska’s medical marijuana law remains entirely legitimate and is in no way affected by the Court’s ruling in Raich,”” said Michael Macleod-Ball, Executive Director of the ACLU of Alaska. “”Attorney General Márquez should publicly acknowledge this fact at the earliest opportunity. Patients in need of medical marijuana treatment have enough to worry about without unfounded threats from the state’s highest ranking law enforcement official.””

In the letter to be delivered to Márquez today, the ACLU pointed out that the Supreme Court’s decision in Raich addressed only the narrow question of whether the federal government retains power under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution to enforce federal marijuana laws even in states with medical marijuana provisions. The ruling did not affect the continued validity of state laws allowing or facilitating the use of medical marijuana, nor the responsibility of state government officials to comply with and enforce such state laws – facts already publicly affirmed by officials from the vast majority of states with such laws.

The political climate surrounding medical marijuana, while impassioned nationwide, is particularly charged in Alaska. The state’s last legislative session witnessed an unsuccessful effort by Governor Frank Murkowski to push through legislation, S.B. 74, that would have overturned a 30-year-old Alaska Supreme Court decision, Ravin v. State, which held that Alaskans’ right to privacy as established in the state constitution allows for the cultivation, possession and private consumption of small amounts of marijuana by adults in the privacy of the home. Attorney General Márquez is a Murkowski appointee.

“”We remain confident that, having reviewed the facts, Attorney General Márquez will end his political posturing and follow the lead of his peers nationwide in clarifying, not confusing, the law,”” said Allen Hopper, an attorney with the national ACLU Drug Law Reform Project. “”If he chooses, however, to misconstrue Raich and attempt to annul Alaska’s medical marijuana law, we are prepared to take appropriate legal action.””

For additional information on Gonzales v. Raich, including the ACLU’s legal analysis, see: /node/16973

To read the ACLU letter sent to Attorney General Márquez, see: /node/22136

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