Source: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Author: Sheila Toomey, Anchorage Daily News
Published: December 16, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Anchorage Daily News
Contact: [email protected]
The state is going after the 1975 Alaska Supreme Court decision that
says adults can possess up to 4 ounces of marijuana for personal use in
their own homes.
In an action supported by Gov. Frank Murkowski, the Anchorage district
attorney has asked a judge to re-examine the 1975 Ravin v. state
conclusion that marijuana in small amounts is essentially harmless to
adults and not dangerous enough to override Alaska's constitutional
right to privacy at home.
"The idea that marijuana is a harmless substance is contrary to all the
scientific studies that exist today," said John Novak, chief assistant
district attorney and one of the prosecutors who filed a motion Tuesday
in Anchorage Superior Court.
If the state gets its wish, Novak envisions a full-blown hearing about
the nature and effects of current marijuana use featuring experts on
The state appeals courts have already said they would be willing to
reconsider Ravin if presented with compelling new evidence that small
amounts of marijuana are harmful.
Prosecutors may also be buoyed by the 138,072-105,590 vote in last
month's election against decriminalizing all amounts of marijuana.
The vehicle chosen by prosecutors to re-examine the subject is a 2000
case against convicted drug dealer Gerald Mahle, 64, who is currently
serving a 25-year sentence on an unrelated 2002 conviction, according to
assistant district attorney Keri Brady, who prosecuted both cases.
Mahle was convicted by a jury in the 2000 case on multiple counts
involving drugs and guns. Police obtained their initial search warrant
in that case based on smelling marijuana during a conversation at
Mahle's door after a neighbor complained about drug trafficking there.
During this period, police and prosecutors were operating under the
assumption that the Ravin decision was dead because Alaskans voted in
1990 to re-criminalize possession of any amount of marijuana.
However, between Mahle's arrest in 2000 and his scheduled sentencing in
2004, the state Court of Appeals threw out a Fairbanks marijuana
conviction and a marijuana possession charge in Homer on the grounds
that Ravin was still the law and possession of less than 4 ounces at
home was legal.
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