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SUPREME COURT REBUFFS CHALLENGE TO MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW

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Date: Wed, 06 Dec 2000 04:27:21 -0800
From: "D. Paul Stanford" <stanford@crrh.org>
To: restore@crrh.org
Subject: Alaska Supreme Court Rebuffs Challenge To Medical Marijuana Law
Message-ID: <5.0.0.25.2.20001206042641.04fed320@mail.olywa.net>

Pubdate: Sun, 26 Nov 2000
Source: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Copyright: 2000 The Anchorage Daily News
Contact: letters@adn.com
Website: Anchorage Daily News: Alaska News, Politics, Outdoors, Science and Events

SUPREME COURT REBUFFS CHALLENGE TO MEDICAL MARIJUANA LAW

Fairbanks - The Alaska Supreme Court has rejected a North Pole man's
challenge of the registration requirements in the medical marijuana
law.

Charles H. Rollins Jr. argued that the law's registration requirement
violated his constitutional right to privacy. The court disagreed in a
ruling issued Friday.

The law approved by voters in a 1998 initiative allows those with
serious medical conditions to use marijuana with approval from a doctor.

Rollins argued that the state got far too much authority when the law
was applied.

"It gave you relief," Rollins said, "but it also stripped you of your
power and dignity, because basically you have to go to the state for
approval."

After a cursory reading of the unanimous ruling by the five justices,
Rollins, 40, said he is considering taking the ruling to the 9th U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals and beyond, if necessary.

Rollins said that he believes the sanctity of the doctor-patient
relationship can't be removed by the Legislature or by the courts, and
that being forced to place his name on a state registry to use
marijuana as a medicine violates that trust.

"I don't know if people realize how sacred the right to privacy and
dignity is when you're dealing with doctors," Rollins said. "I think a
lot of people who are going through a serious illness realize that."

Rollins had appealed a Superior Court ruling by Judge Niesje
Steinkruger to Alaska's highest court.

The justices sympathized to some extent with Rollins'
concerns.

"It can hardly be disputed that the medical marijuana registry
requires disclosure of sensitive information," Justice Alex Bryner
wrote. "We agree with Rollins that the general publication of this
information could be stigmatizing and invasive of the right to privacy."

However, the justices concluded, those who drafted the law anticipated
the problem and fully addressed it.

"The medical marijuana law does not require medical marijuana users to
divulge any details about debilitating conditions they suffer. And
although it does require them to register and identify their approving
physicians, the law explicitly requires the department (of health and
social services) to keep the registry confidential."

Rollins isn't persuaded.

"I might consider going (the federal court) route," Rollins said. "I
feel like they missed the point."
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