For those late to the game, in Ravin, the Alaska State Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution’s privacy provision took precedence over the government’s “need” to search people’s homes for small amounts of marijuana. In other words, marijuana is not dangerous enough to justify an invasion of privacy for small amounts. This got Governor Frank Murkowski’s knickers in a twist, and he’s been going all nuts trying to find a way to get the police back into people’s homes, so he held some ridiculous show hearing trying to claim that marijuana is more dangerous now, and finally got the legislature to pass a law “re-criminalizing” small amounts of marijuana.
The ACLU has led the charge to fight this despicable back door effort to overturn Ravin (joined by anonymous plaintiffs Jane Doe and Jane Roe).
Today, Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins granted summary declaratory judgment in favor of the ACLU, meaning that unless and until the State Supreme Court overturns it, Ravin is the law in Alaska, not Frank Murkowski.
The state suggests that, in effect, Ravin does not extend constitutional protection to the personal use of small quantities of marijuana by adults in the privacy of the home, but, rather, provides a framework for trial courts to determine, apparently on a case-by-case basis, whether current data about marijuana establishes that the government has a sufficient interest in prohibiting possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults in the home. As did the Alaska Court of Appeals in its opinion on rehearing in Noy v. State, this court rejects that interpretation of Ravin. […] As the court of appeals found in Noy, “both in the Ravin opinion itself and in the supreme court’s later description of Ravin, the Alaska Supreme Court has repeatedly and consistently chararacterized the Ravin decision as announcing a constitutional limitation on the government authority to enact legislation prohibiting the possession of marijuana in the privacy of one’s home.
Ravin is a decision by this state’s highest court on the government’s authority to enact legislation prohibiting the possession of small amounts of marijuana in the privacy of one’s home. That decision is the law until and unless the supreme court takes contrary action. […]
Plaintiffs’ motion for summary declaratory judgment is GRANTED to the extent set forth in this decision. […]
Today’s full ruling (pdf large file, about 1 meg)
- The ACLU’s legal complaint
- The ACLU’s motion seeking to immediately block implementation of the law
- A memorandum in support of the motion
- A letter previously sent by the ACLU to Alaska Attorney General Marquez explaining the constitutional basis for its legal challenge