ACLU Asks Alaska Court to Strike Down Unconstitutional Marijuana Law

Affiliate: ACLU of Alaska
June 30, 2006 12:00 am

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JUNEAU, AK – The American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska today filed legal papers urging a court to strike down as unconstitutional a newly enacted law criminalizing adults’ possession of small amounts of marijuana in the privacy of their homes. A hearing on the matter has been set for Wednesday, July 5, in state Superior Court in Juneau, Alaska.

“To be left alone in the privacy of one’s home is a fundamental right we in Alaska hold very dear,” said Michael Macleod-Ball, Executive Director of the ACLU of Alaska. “We must not sacrifice the sanctity of our homes to irrational fears of private conduct by other adults.”

Under the new law, House Bill 149, adults engaged in purely personal and private conduct in their homes now face the prospect of surveillance, searches and criminal sanctions. In addition, individuals who use marijuana to treat severe and disabling illnesses will now be at risk.

The Alaska Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the state constitution’s privacy provisions protect adults’ possession of small amounts of marijuana in the home. The Court’s initial ruling came in 1975, in Ravin v. State, and was most recently reaffirmed in 2004, in Noy v. State, which overturned a measure markedly similar to the law currently being challenged.

Based on these rulings, the ACLU argues, the newly enacted law must be struck down. As the government itself acknowledged in a recent filing in the case, “only the Alaska Supreme Court can overrule one of its case law precedents that is based on interpretation of the state constitution.”

In the current case, ACLU of Alaska v. State, the ACLU represents two individuals who use marijuana within the privacy of their homes, Jane Doe and Jane Roe. Both plaintiffs must remain anonymous, as they are subject to arrest and prosecution for their use of marijuana under the new law. The ACLU of Alaska is also a plaintiff on behalf of itself, as a civil liberties organization, as well as its members, some of whom use marijuana in the privacy of their homes.

The State of Alaska and Alaska Attorney General David W. Marquez are named as defendants.

A hearing on the ACLU’s motion to strike down the law is set for Wednesday, July 5, from 2:15 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., in state Superior Court before Judge Patricia Collins. The hearing will be held at:

Superior Court for the State of Alaska
123 4th Street, Room 21
Juneau, Alaska

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