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Eric Sterling's Letter to the Editor about
Alaska Supreme Court Upholds Constitutional Protection for Cannabis Use
By Eric E. Sterling
Sep 2004
Response to: Alaska Supreme Court chooses privacy over pot, Sep 2004

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
To the editor:
(unpublished as far as we can tell)

Contrary to the opinion of your reporter, Beth Ipsen, the decision of Ravin v. State, 537 P.2d 495 (Alaska, 1975), was not controversial -- it was unanimous. It was authored by the esteemed Chief Justice Rabinowitz of the Alaska Supreme Court, and was grounded on a solid examination of the facts, the law and the Constitution. The court carefully considered the dangers of marijuana and relied upon the findings of the prestigious National Commission on Marihuana and Substance Abuse, appointed by President Richard M. Nixon.

Lawyers and law students (I was one at the time) were deeply impressed by the integrity of the legal reasoning, and as a result many of us were very impressed with the judicial system of the State of Alaska. The opinion was actually somewhat "conservative" in its analysis, which is revealed by the two concurring opinions in which Justices Boochever and Connor expressed concerns that the ruling could be seen as limiting Alaska's right to privacy.

I was amused that Attorney General Gregg Renkes said, "I'm really appalled that it appears some people are still fighting the culture war of the 1970s." If anyone is fighting a culture war, it seems that he is the aggressor. He wants to amend the Constitution. He wants to take people away from their families, and send them to jail -- even though their marijuana use does not endanger their community in any verifiable or measurable way.

Eric E. Sterling

See Also:
Legal pot in Alaska, Nov 2003
Pot vs Privacy, ABCNews Oc 2003