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Wednesday, May 22, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Alaska Court Tells ACLU to Wait on Pot Challenge

(CN) - Alaska's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union must wait for a violation in order to challenge the state's restriction on the home use of small amounts of marijuana, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled.

The Alaska Legislature amended the law in 2006, prohibiting the possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.

The ACLU and two anonymous plaintiffs sought declarative relief, complaining that the new law violates the privacy clause of the state constitution.

The trial court ruled in favor of the ALCU, citing the 1975 ruling in Ravin v. State that allows the private use of small amounts of marijuana in an Alaskan home.

The state that marijuana is more intoxicating now than it was in 1975, and that children are using the drug at a younger age these days.

However, the controversy will have to wait, Justice Matthews ruled, until a real incident of allegedly illegal marijuana use comes before the court system.

"The actual controversy requirement has not been satisfied," Matthews wrote, "because this case is not ripe for decision."

Matthews ruled that neither side would be unduly burdened by such a delay.

"The plaintiff's ... conduct, regardless of how this court might rule, would still be criminal under federal statutes, which impose much more severe penalties than the amended state statute."

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