FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Alaska Court of Appeals is considering a case that
could set precedent in the 1975 Alaska Supreme Court ruling protecting
marijuana possession for personal use in the home.

A lawyer for a North Pole man convicted in 2001 of possessing marijuana in
his home has appealed the conviction based on a claim that a nearly
three-decade-old Alaska Supreme Court decision declaring personal pot
possession a state constitutional right is still the law.

The Court of Appeals' decision will represent the first time a
precedent-setting court decides whether the Supreme Court ruling still
protects marijuana possession for personal use in the home despite a 1990
voter initiative that criminalized possession of any amount of the drug in
any location, said Bill Satterberg, the defense attorney who submitted the
appeal.

Satterberg's argument is based on the assertion that voters did not have
authority to cancel a state constitutional right when they passed the
initiative, making the Supreme Court's decision still valid. The case
before the Alaska Court of Appeals, Satterberg said, could produce the
decision that clarifies the issue.

The case started when North Pole police and drug agents arrested David Noy,
41, at his North Pole home on July 27, 2001.

Noy was arrested after a patrol officer smelled marijuana coming from the
home, where Noy and a group of people were outside barbecuing salmon.

After a long dispute over whether Noy would let officers into his house,
North Pole police and drug agents who responded searched the residence and
found five live pot plants, growing equipment, some loose marijuana and
paraphernalia, according to testimony and court documents.

A jury convicted Noy of one count of sixth-degree misconduct involving a
controlled substance, a misdemeanor charge of possessing less than 8 ounces
of marijuana. Eight ounces of pot or less is defined in Alaska law as an
amount for personal use, while anything more than 8 ounces is defined as an
intent to deliver.

Noy was sentenced to community service.

Satterberg appealed the conviction. He said he expects a decision soon
because the three appeals judges who make up the court usually take about
six months to render a decision.


Pubdate: Mon, 21 Jul 2003
Source: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Webpage: http://www.adn.com/alaska/story/3498651p-3529892c.html
Copyright: 2003 The Anchorage Daily News
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