Supreme Court ruling appears to have little impact in Alaska

Posted: Tuesday, May 15, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A U.S. Supreme Court ruling against distribution of medical marijuana is unlikely to have much impact on the 191 Alaskans who have registered to use the drug as medicine.

The law struck down only the cannabis buying clubs, not the laws passed in Alaska and other states allowing medical use of the drug.

'The ruling is clearly about the distribution of marijuana, not the possession of marijuana,'' said David Finkelstein, a former state legislator who led the petition drive that legalized medicinal marijuana use in Alaska.

''We believe the federal authorities have always had the ability to enforce federal law, and up to now they've certainly chosen not to,'' Dean Guaneli of the Alaska Attorney General's office told KTUU-TV in Anchorage. ''And we don't see any reason why that won't continue.''

''Basically what it (the court ruling) says is that cannabis clubs can't be opened up in Alaska,'' Finkelstein said in a telephone interview. Some Alaskans who registered with the state to use medical marijuana don't want to grow it, or can't grow it, Finkelstein said. But ''for most patients, it's working well.''

Alaska law allows those who register with the state to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants. The law doesn't address how those patients obtain the marijuana or seeds for the plants.

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