Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

04/20/2005 08:30 AM JUDICIARY

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                   0ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 20, 2005                                                                                         
                           8:39 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Ralph Seekins, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
Senator Gretchen Guess                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 74                                                                                                              
"An   Act  making   findings  relating   to  marijuana   use  and                                                               
possession;  relating to  marijuana  and  misconduct involving  a                                                               
controlled substance; and providing an effective date."                                                                         
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 125                                                                                                             
"An Act  relating to the licensing,  regulation, enforcement, and                                                               
appeal  rights of  ambulatory surgical  centers, assisted  living                                                               
homes, child  care facilities,  child placement  agencies, foster                                                               
homes,  free-standing   birth  centers,  home   health  agencies,                                                               
hospices  or  agencies  providing  hospice  services,  hospitals,                                                               
intermediate   care  facilities   for   the  mentally   retarded,                                                               
maternity  homes,  nursing  facilities,  residential  child  care                                                               
facilities, residential psychiatric  treatment centers, and rural                                                               
health clinics; relating to criminal  history requirements, and a                                                               
registry, regarding certain  licenses, certifications, approvals,                                                               
and  authorizations  by  the  Department  of  Health  and  Social                                                               
Services;  making conforming  amendments;  and  providing for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
HOUSE BILL NO. 136                                                                                                              
"An  Act  restricting  the  authority   of  a  court  to  suspend                                                               
execution of  a sentence or  grant probation in  prosecutions for                                                               
driving while  under the influence  and prosecutions  for refusal                                                               
to submit to a chemical test;  and allowing a court to suspend up                                                               
to 75  percent of  the minimum fines  required for  driving while                                                               
under the influence and for refusal  to submit to a chemical test                                                               
if   the  defendant   successfully   completes  a   court-ordered                                                               
treatment program."                                                                                                             
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 74                                                                                                                   
SHORT TITLE: CRIMES INVOLVING MARIJUANA/OTHER DRUGS                                                                             
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
01/21/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
01/21/05       (S)       HES, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
03/21/05       (S)       HES AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/21/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/21/05       (S)       MINUTE(HES)                                                                                            
03/23/05       (S)       HES AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/23/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/23/05       (S)       MINUTE(HES)                                                                                            
04/01/05       (S)       HES AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/01/05       (S)       Moved SB 74 Out of Committee                                                                           
04/01/05       (S)       MINUTE(HES)                                                                                            
04/04/05       (S)       HES RPT 2DP 1DNP 1NR                                                                                   
04/04/05       (S)       DP: DYSON, WILKEN                                                                                      
04/04/05       (S)       DNP: ELTON                                                                                             
04/04/05       (S)       NR: OLSON                                                                                              
04/11/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:00 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/11/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/11/05       (S)       MINUTE(JUD)                                                                                            
04/19/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/19/05       (S)       Scheduled But Not Heard                                                                                
BILL: SB 125                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: LICENSING MEDICAL OR CARE FACILITIES                                                                               
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
03/02/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/02/05       (S)       HES, JUD, FIN                                                                                          
03/14/05       (S)       HES AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/14/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/14/05       (S)       MINUTE(HES)                                                                                            
04/06/05       (S)       HES AT 1:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/06/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/06/05       (S)       MINUTE(HES)                                                                                            
04/13/05       (S)       HES AT 2:00 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/13/05       (S)       Moved CSSB 125(HES) Out of Committee                                                                   
04/13/05       (S)       MINUTE(HES)                                                                                            
04/14/05       (S)       HES RPT CS 3DP 2NR NEW TITLE                                                                           
04/14/05       (S)       DP: DYSON, WILKEN, GREEN                                                                               
04/14/05       (S)       NR: ELTON, OLSON                                                                                       
04/20/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Mr. Dean Guaneli                                                                                                                
Department of Law                                                                                                               
PO Box 110300                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99811-0300                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 74                                                                            
Mr. Bill Parker, Spokesman                                                                                                      
Alaskans for Marijuana Regulation and Control                                                                                   
PO Box 242191                                                                                                                   
Anchorage, AK 99524                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition of SB 74                                                                         
Ms. Debbie Soule                                                                                                                
Wasilla, AK                                                                                                                     
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SB 74                                                                         
Mr. Michael MacLeod-Ball, Executive Director                                                                                    
Alaska Civil Liberties Union, (AkCLU)                                                                                           
Juneau, AK                                                                                                                      
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition of SB 74                                                                         
Dr. Richard Mandsager, Director                                                                                                 
Department of Public Health                                                                                                     
Department of Health & Social Services                                                                                          
PO Box 110601                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99801-0601                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Introduced SB 125                                                                                        
Ms. Stacy Kraly, Senior Assistant Attorney General                                                                              
Department of Law                                                                                                               
PO Box 110300                                                                                                                   
Juneau, AK  99811-0300                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 125                                                                                      
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR  RALPH   SEEKINS  called  the  Senate   Judiciary  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 8:39:56 AM.  Present were Senators                                                             
Hollis French, Charlie Huggins, and Chair Ralph Seekins.                                                                        
CHAIR SEEKINS explained  to the committee members  and the public                                                               
audience the agenda for the day. He  announced SB 74 to be up for                                                               
         SB  74-CRIMES INVOLVING MARIJUANA/OTHER DRUGS                                                                      
The following  is a  near-verbatim transcript of  SB 74  heard on                                                               
April 20, 2005 in the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                      
8:41:18 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. DEAN  GUANELI, chief  assistant attorney  general, Department                                                               
of Law (DOL), testified in support of SB 74:                                                                                    
SB  74 has  had hearings  in  Senate Health  and Social  Services                                                               
Committee  (SHES) and  in the  House Judiciary  Committee (SJUD).                                                               
Much of  the testimony has  been similar in the  three committees                                                               
from both  proponents and opponents  of SB 74,  and a lot  of the                                                               
same materials  have been submitted  to all three  committees. At                                                               
this  point  in  time  I'm  ready to  respond  to  any  questions                                                               
regarding previous  testimony and  to discuss  any details  of SB                                                               
74. I do  have some revised findings that the  committee may wish                                                               
to consider  in SB  74. The findings  as originally  drafted were                                                               
drafted many  months ago without  the input of the  testimony and                                                               
evidence that has been presented at  the hearings and some of the                                                               
wording  that  was used  provoked  some  comments that  were  not                                                               
intended by our  office. These revised findings will  lay to rest                                                               
some of  the concerns and provide  a better record for  the court                                                               
to consider  what the  judgment the Legislature  made of  some of                                                               
the evidence that has been presented both pro and con.                                                                          
I think  in this  case it  is important  to include  findings for                                                               
clarification to the  court as to the intent  of the Legislature.                                                               
The court is going to give  deference to what the Legislature did                                                               
and if  all the  court has before  it is a  mound of  evidence it                                                               
would have  to sort through  it all  and come to  some conclusion                                                               
regarding what  it believes the Legislature  found. With specific                                                               
findings I  think the Legislature  aids the court in  focusing on                                                               
what  the   Legislature  found  was  most   important  about  the                                                               
evidence.  Essentially  what the  findings  do  is focus  on  the                                                               
increased potency  of marijuana,  the increasing use  among young                                                               
people  and  Alaska Natives,  which  I  think  is a  concern  for                                                               
everybody,  and testimony  by the  division of  behavioral health                                                               
about  the   relationship  between  marijuana  use   and  alcohol                                                               
addiction and  how difficult it  is to treat alcoholism  when you                                                               
have marijuana so  freely in the state. So I  think those are the                                                               
kinds of  things we have  focused on  in the findings  along with                                                               
some other evidence.                                                                                                            
8:44:40 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
That is a brief background of where the DOL is on SB 74.                                                                        
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
In this case  I think it is important to  attach some findings to                                                               
accentuate those  things we  think are  most important  about the                                                               
reason we are passing SB 74 and our intent.                                                                                     
8:46:01 AM                                                                                                                    
BILL  PARKER, spokesman,  Alaskans for  Marijuana Regulation  and                                                               
Control presented his list of witnesses.                                                                                        
8:46:28 AM                                                                                                                    
DEBBIE SOULE testified in opposition of SB 74:                                                                                  
I  am  married  with  three  grown children  and  I  own  my  own                                                               
business. I am  a constructive and active woman.  Seven years ago                                                               
my  husband  and  I  had  a near  fatal  car  accident.  I  broke                                                               
everything from my neck  down and then I lost my  right leg. I am                                                               
now  in a  wheelchair twice  a day.  The doctors  had me  on nine                                                               
different medications, none  of which worked. I  was slowly being                                                               
killed by  all the  medication they  gave me.  All of  this after                                                               
they insisted on keeping me alive.                                                                                              
Now  I have  a life  of tremendous  pain and  tremendous loss.  I                                                               
heard from  a doctor  I might  get some relief  from some  of the                                                               
phantom pain and seizure by  using marijuana. I was skeptical and                                                               
thought about  it for  over two  years before I  tried it.  To my                                                               
great surprise I  found it worked better than  any medication the                                                               
doctors prescribed. I also found it  didn't leave me doped up and                                                               
unable to  function like  all of the  other medications  they had                                                               
prescribed.  Some  of  the  side   effects  of  medications  they                                                               
prescribed are  unbelievable. They  are suicide,  kidney failure,                                                               
liver  problems, stomach  and bowel  problems, and  psychological                                                               
The problem I  have found is that although  Alaska supposedly has                                                               
a  medical  marijuana  law,  the  State of  Alaska  has  made  it                                                               
impossible to  find doctors who  will sign the paperwork.  When I                                                               
was ready to  try marijuana to relieve  my pain, I had  to buy it                                                               
illegally.  I felt  like a  criminal. Alaska's  medical marijuana                                                               
law simply does not  work. Even if I could find  a doctor to sign                                                               
my forms, what  good does it do  if there is no legal  way to get                                                               
The law allows a  person to grow up to six plants,  but it is not                                                               
practical to most patients. Unless  you fix the medical marijuana                                                               
law in  Alaska, patients  will have to  buy it  illegally. That's                                                               
why  keeping the  protection,  under the  Ravin  decision, is  so                                                               
important.  If SB  74 passes,  the situation  for people  who use                                                               
medical marijuana  will go from bad  to worse. At least  now if I                                                               
get arrested,  I would have  some protection  in the eyes  of the                                                               
court. I  understand we want  to keep  marijuana out of  hands of                                                               
children,  everybody  does.  You  have to  admit  when  marijuana                                                               
possession was  made illegal in  1990, teenagers went  on smoking                                                               
it anyway because they can get it  easier than I can. SB 74 won't                                                               
make it  any tougher for  teenagers but  it will make  it tougher                                                               
for people  in wheelchairs to  get the one medication  that helps                                                               
the most.                                                                                                                       
I find  it odd that  our good Senators and  Representatives don't                                                               
have  anything  better to  do  with  their  time than  outlaw  my                                                               
medication. The  doctors are willing  to give me  any medication;                                                               
morphine,  Valium, Oxycontin,  to help  keep me  comfortable, who                                                               
will turn me into a drug addict  and kill me, but they won't sign                                                               
for  medical marijuana.  I feel  I will  now live  longer and  be                                                               
healthier and in a loss less  pain because I have chosen to smoke                                                               
8:52:12 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR CHARLIE HUGGINS:                                                                                                        
THC is the  effect that you're looking for. Someone  told me that                                                               
was available to take orally. Is that true?                                                                                     
MS. SOULE:                                                                                                                      
That's true,  but it doesn't work  the same. I've tried  it. This                                                               
is the  only thing that  has helped the  seizures in my  leg, and                                                               
the pain. Sometimes  it is so bad that I  can't put my prosthesis                                                               
on and  walk. This marijuana is  the only thing that  has stopped                                                               
that. To this  day, I'm still astounded because  I never believed                                                               
it would  help me. The  doctors told me  they were just  going to                                                               
keep me comfortable until I die.                                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS:                                                                                                                
Assuming we can get a  pharmaceutical company to produce THC that                                                               
would  provide   you  relief,  would   you  think  that   a  good                                                               
MS. SOULE:                                                                                                                      
I wish they would do that. I  would support it. There are so many                                                               
patients like me  that need help but have to  get it illegally. I                                                               
met a man from Tok who is 72  years old, who owns a large company                                                               
and he's  doing the same thing  I'm doing because we  cannot find                                                               
doctors. You can call the state  and they will tell you there are                                                               
250 people on the medical marijuana  lists but they will not give                                                               
you the name of a doctor.                                                                                                       
8:55:08 AM                                                                                                                    
MICHAEL MACLEOD-BALL, Executive director, ACLU:                                                                                 
We believe it  is near impossible for the  Judiciary Committee to                                                               
reach  full  understanding  of   the  issues  involved  with  the                                                               
abbreviated hearings  that you've had.  We object for  the record                                                               
in  that  sense.  You've  acknowledged  you  have  received  many                                                               
studies  and reports.  It's a  lot of  information that  has been                                                               
submitted  to you  and we  believe it  is next  to impossible  to                                                               
reach  a  full  understanding  of  the meaning  of  all  of  that                                                               
material  with  just  a  series  of  six  or  seven  three-minute                                                               
presentations by people  who oppose SB 74. We  believe the weight                                                               
of  the evidence,  if  fully understood  by  the committee  would                                                               
clearly show the justifications for SB 74 are not accurate.                                                                     
8:56:49 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MACLEOD-BALL:                                                                                                               
The  focus  is on  privacy  rights  guaranteed under  the  Alaska                                                               
Constitution. The  first issue  to consider  is what  the privacy                                                               
rights do.  Is there  a basis  of taking away  a portion  of that                                                               
right?  A  lot of  the  testimony  that  you  have heard  by  the                                                               
proponents  deals   with  commercial  cultivation,   selling  and                                                               
distributing,  providing  it to  kids,  driving  while under  the                                                               
influence. Almost all of the testimony  deals with one or more of                                                               
these issues. None of those  are within the privacy rights. There                                                               
is no restriction  on your ability to regulate in  that area. The                                                               
possession of small amounts for personal  use in the home for use                                                               
in a  way that does not  adversely impact others, that  is within                                                               
the  privacy  right. Testimonies  by  proponents  of SB  74  have                                                               
acknowledged  that this  is not  the  problem. If  someone has  a                                                               
single  marijuana cigarette  in  their home,  they  would now  be                                                               
subjected  to imprisonment  up  to  10 years.  If  someone has  a                                                               
single marijuana  seed in  an ashtray in  their home,  they would                                                               
now  be subjected  to  imprisonment up  to 90  days.  There is  a                                                               
regiment of  punishment in this bill  that has not been  shown to                                                               
8:59:01 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MACLEOD-BALL:                                                                                                               
The  Ravin decision  in the  1970s  was more  about privacy  than                                                               
marijuana. It  acknowledged in that  decision that there  is some                                                               
risk  to the  use of  marijuana but  specifically said  that risk                                                               
does  not justify  regulation of  small  amounts for  use in  the                                                               
home. It  also acknowledged in  that decision that kids  might be                                                               
present in the  home in which marijuana is also  present. It said                                                               
that even so that was an  insufficient threat to public safety to                                                               
justify  regulation.  So  we  would   ask  you  to  consider  the                                                               
reasoning of  the Ravin decision  rather than simply look  on the                                                               
Ravin decision as one that  legalized marijuana. We believe it is                                                               
very  important that  the findings  should match  the facts.  I'm                                                               
please to  see that Mr.  Guaneli has offered revised  findings. I                                                               
would have  liked to have  had the  opportunity to look  at those                                                               
ahead of  time so  that I could  comment on those  and to  see if                                                               
they are any  better than the existing findings,  which have been                                                               
acknowledged as  an overstatement of the  asserted justifications                                                               
for  the bill.  I  would hope  the committee  might  give us  the                                                               
opportunity to review the findings and comment on them.                                                                         
I would  like to point  out a  number of the  overstatements that                                                               
have  been  made  by  the  proponents of  the  bill  because  the                                                               
findings are based on the  underlying studies and facts that have                                                               
been presented  to you.  It's important for  you to  realize that                                                               
the  oral  comments   and  some  of  the   written  comments  are                                                               
misleading.  Some   of  the   scientific  experts   have  already                                                               
testified against  this bill. There  were assertions  about usage                                                               
by children.  The state  has referred  to a  1990 study  to claim                                                               
that  22  percent  of  kids  of  marijuana  users  use  marijuana                                                               
themselves,  yet  only  5  percent   of  kids  of  non-users  use                                                               
marijuana. There are problems with  that assertion. First, only 4                                                               
pages of  the study were  submitted to the committee  for review.                                                               
The study was much longer and  had much more detail than the four                                                               
pages that  were submitted. If  you look  at the full  study, you                                                               
will  see that  the study  itself  says you  cannot draw  general                                                               
conclusions from the statistics  reported because the sample size                                                               
was too  small. The state  didn't tell  you that. There  are also                                                               
methodology and  reporting problems.  Kids of non-users  are less                                                               
likely than  kids of  users to  acknowledge that  they themselves                                                               
have used. That throws off the figures by quite a bit.                                                                          
9:01:44 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MACLEOD-BALL:                                                                                                               
Usage  rates reported  in that  study confirm  there has  been no                                                               
increase  in  usage rates  since  the  Ravin decision.  Also  the                                                               
testimony ignored the actual recommendations  of that report. The                                                               
recommendations  generally  in  that  report  were  to  focus  on                                                               
prevention and treatment, not  on criminalization. It's important                                                               
for this committee  to realize that simply listening  to the oral                                                               
testimony does  not give  you a  full flavor  of what  the actual                                                               
studies that have  been submitted to this  group represent. There                                                               
is another  important assertion that  was made by  the proponents                                                               
of the  bill. They stated  that 15  percent of rape  suspects had                                                               
marijuana in  their system. If you  look at the study  from which                                                               
that fact was drawn, you will  see that study focused more on the                                                               
presence  of alcohol  in the  system  of rape  suspects than  the                                                               
presence of marijuana. That same  study showed that 70 percent of                                                               
those rape  suspects had  alcohol in  their systems.  They deemed                                                               
that 15 percent of suspects who  had marijuana had such a trivial                                                               
amount that  they did not  study it  further. They did  not drill                                                               
down  to get  more information.  However with  the alcohol,  they                                                               
drilled down to try to determine what was driving that.                                                                         
The  study  itself   implied  that  the  use   of  marijuana  and                                                               
aggression was  not one to  be studied further; rather  the focus                                                               
should  be on  the presence  of alcohol.  It's important  for the                                                               
committee  to come  to a  full  understanding of  what all  these                                                               
studies  that  have been  submitted  to  you  show. We  are  also                                                               
concerned that  there may be  a predisposition on this  bill that                                                               
has been reflected in some  of the previous hearings. For example                                                               
in  the  Senate Health  and  Social  Services Committee  hearing,                                                               
there was a single administration  official who spoke against the                                                               
bill and she was chastised for  doing so. However there have been                                                               
a number of administration officials  who have spoken in favor of                                                               
the bill yet they have been praised  for doing so. It seems to me                                                               
there is a chilling effect on  the proponents of the bill who may                                                               
be within the  administration. And for these  reasons, we believe                                                               
that even if the findings are  left in the bill in their original                                                               
form the  court will choose  to go  beyond those findings  to see                                                               
what the actual studies and reports say.                                                                                        
9:04:31 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MACLEOD-BALL:                                                                                                               
There are a  lot of cases in  both the US and  Alaska courts that                                                               
show that  when a fundamental  right is involved the  courts will                                                               
not simple  defer to the  Legislature in their findings.  In most                                                               
legislation of course, they will.  There is great deference given                                                               
to  the Legislature  in legislative  findings in  looking at  the                                                               
purpose of  a particular state action.  But that is not  the case                                                               
when a  fundamental right  is involved and  the privacy  right is                                                               
involved in this case. There is  one case in particular, which is                                                               
referenced in  my written testimony  Justice Clarence  Thomas who                                                               
has said  that regardless of  what information is relied  upon by                                                               
the  Legislature, the  Legislature cannot  turn black  into white                                                               
and cannot turn  slavery into freedom simply by saying  it is so.                                                               
The great weight of the  good scientific evidence here shows that                                                               
marijuana has some  risks but not great risks.  Certainly no more                                                               
so than were  present in 1975 when the Ravin  decision came down.                                                               
The Ravin  decision stands  that the  privacy right  is paramount                                                               
unless  there is  a compelling  interest. Those  factors are  not                                                               
present in this case.                                                                                                           
9:06:02 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. MACLEOD-BALL:                                                                                                               
I mentioned before about the 1990  study that the state relied on                                                               
to assert  that kids are more  affected now. If you  look at that                                                               
full study  it says kids  who do poorly  in school, kids  who are                                                               
emotionally distressed, kids  who are abused, are  more likely to                                                               
abuse drugs. A  program that does not address  these factors will                                                               
be bound to fail in trying to  lessen drug abuse, yet that is the                                                               
focus of  this bill. This bill  will not focus on  those factors;                                                               
it will  simply criminalize minor  possession. Granted  the focus                                                               
should be  on education and on  prevention and on the  science. A                                                               
wealth  of which  has been  submitted to  the committee  for your                                                               
consideration. We believe that if you  really focus on all of the                                                               
scientific  evidence,  you  will  not  simply  criminalize  minor                                                               
possession of  small amounts in  the home, rather you  will alter                                                               
the  penalties, you  will drastically  modify  the findings,  and                                                               
hopefully you will defeat this bill.                                                                                            
9:07:17 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
For  the  record,  regardless  of   anyone's  perception  of  our                                                               
inability to understand the issue, we  each will do the best that                                                               
we  can  and   we'll  operate  within  the  full   scope  of  our                                                               
constitutional authority.                                                                                                       
MR. PARKER:                                                                                                                     
We  have assembled  what we  think are  the best  experts in  the                                                               
country on the subject to respond  to the findings. Now today the                                                               
DOL offers all new findings,  replacing the entire second section                                                               
of the  bill. I've done  a quick contrasting comparison  here but                                                               
it's hard to do because they  are in different forms. I certainly                                                               
wish the experts would have had  a chance to look at the findings                                                               
the DOL proposes to you to  pass it into law before they comment.                                                               
Because I'm not an expert and  because I've just seen it, I don't                                                               
think   this  bill   is   ready  to   go   with  these   findings                                                               
uninvestigated at  this point. We  haven't gotten to  the penalty                                                               
section yet, which turns misdemeanors  into felonies. Perhaps the                                                               
best thing I can  say to you now is thank  you for your patience.                                                               
I would like very much to  spend a little time with this proposed                                                               
9:09:02 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
We have received a great  deal of information. (Chair Seekins ran                                                               
down the  list of  books and  studies given  to the  committee by                                                               
different entities.)                                                                                                            
9:11:53 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Gene Therriault joined the committee.                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGGINS:                                                                                                                
Mr. Parker,  one of  my concerns,  I as  much as  anybody sitting                                                               
before  you today,  feels strongly  about privacy  and individual                                                               
rights. I'm  very sensitive to  that point.  One of the  rules in                                                               
our family  is that to  the extent we  can when kids  are hanging                                                               
out  with kids  we try  to be  as protective  as possible  of who                                                               
those kids are. Out of  these households where parents are using,                                                               
kids  are  exposed  to  marijuana  and  it  comes  the  potential                                                               
exportation of  the mentality on  the school grounds and  my wife                                                               
and  I can't  control  because it's  forced  association, in  the                                                               
classroom. Give me your thoughts  about what parents are supposed                                                               
to do.                                                                                                                          
MR. PARKER:                                                                                                                     
You mean, Senator, that the courts findings...                                                                                  
SENATOR HUGGINS:                                                                                                                
I'm  not  interested  in  the   courts.  I'm  interested  in  the                                                               
sociological dilemma of  parents in the community,  and what kids                                                               
are seeing and experiencing and  the mentality and how you answer                                                               
that proposition. Because  I don't know the answer  but I've been                                                               
asked that and I'm faced with it myself as a parent.                                                                            
9:13:48 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PARKER:  I think I know  what you mean, Senator,  let me make                                                               
sure  I  got  the  question  right.  You  mean  that  the  courts                                                               
SENATOR HUGGINS:                                                                                                                
I'll say it one more time;  I'm not worried about the courts. I'm                                                               
talking about kids that come  from an environment where marijuana                                                               
is used in the house and  the potential exportation of use or the                                                               
mentality of use going to, in this case, the school site.                                                                       
MR. PARKER:                                                                                                                     
So in  other words did  all this  produce a mentality  that makes                                                               
drugs in the schools more prevalent? Is that...?                                                                                
SENATOR HUGGINS:                                                                                                                
Yes, that's good enough for government work.                                                                                    
MR. PARKER:                                                                                                                     
No Senator  it doesn't. The  answer lies in the  other direction.                                                               
The way  to keep children from  drugs is to control  and regulate                                                               
it.  If  we  continue  to  outlaw it,  even  against  the  courts                                                               
constitutional findings, we will find  what we have found for the                                                               
last 15  years, that  there is just  more marijuana  than before.                                                               
The troopers'  testimony is it  is not  stopping. We must  take a                                                               
different tack  if we're  trying to do  something about  drugs in                                                               
the  schools. Ratcheting  up the  penalties, especially  on young                                                               
people, making  them felons, is  not the solution. It  is exactly                                                               
wrong.  It is  the  reason we  have problems  with  drugs in  the                                                               
school today, because  of our approach to  prohibiting it instead                                                               
of regulating it.                                                                                                               
9:15:25 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS:                                                                                                                
One of  the things military leaders  are faced with is  the young                                                               
men and women have  a federal law they have to  abide by and they                                                               
come to Alaska and  we immerse them in our state  where we have a                                                               
conflicting  state law.  My  son will  be in  the  military in  a                                                               
couple years and  he will be a  leader and he will  have to abide                                                               
by that federal law. When you  are the leader of young people who                                                               
are doing the  country's business in Alaska that  creates a tough                                                               
environment. Your thoughts?                                                                                                     
MR. PARKER:                                                                                                                     
My thoughts are that adults  in Alaska make choices about alcohol                                                               
and tobacco and  prescription drugs, all sorts  of things. Alaska                                                               
adults make  choices about  marijuana too.  The federal  law, all                                                               
those things must be taken  into consideration by each individual                                                               
but  adults  in Alaska  enjoy  that  right  to choose  under  the                                                               
9:17:02 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT:                                                                                                             
The issue of  whether regulation would take care  of the problem,                                                               
we regulate  tobacco products  but yet  tobacco products  used by                                                               
underage smokers is still a problem.                                                                                            
MR. PARKER:                                                                                                                     
It is but it's down and the children  tell us it is now easier to                                                               
get marijuana than tobacco because  of that. One is regulated and                                                               
one is not.                                                                                                                     
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
Are you  advocating that we  logically extend this  argument that                                                               
anything that's illegal will cut down  the use of it by making it                                                               
legal and regulating it?                                                                                                        
MR. PARKER:                                                                                                                     
I'm trying to confine my comments to marijuana and this bill.                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
But wouldn't  that logically extend  to cocaine, heroin,  and any                                                               
other drug? You're saying the way to  cut down the use is to make                                                               
it legal and regulate it.                                                                                                       
MR. PARKER                                                                                                                      
I don't' mean to  imply or infer that. I just  know this; when it                                                               
comes  to marijuana,  we have  had a  long 30-year  experiment in                                                               
this  state about  decriminalizing it,  re-criminalizing it,  now                                                               
felon-izing it. And  I think the answer is becoming  clear we are                                                               
moving in the  wrong direction if we are trying  to eradicate it.                                                               
The people who tell us they  are spending their careers trying to                                                               
solve it and  it is still booming, millions of  dollars a year. I                                                               
believe  the answer  is  in a  different  direction. We  regulate                                                               
alcohol and tobacco, and I think we should regulate marijuana.                                                                  
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
Why  do  you think  people  like  Mr.  Guaneli  want to  keep  it                                                               
MR. PARKER                                                                                                                      
Mr. Guaneli would be the best one to answer that, Senator.                                                                      
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
I'm asking you why  do you think that. If you  want to avoid that                                                               
question, go ahead. Why do you think that?                                                                                      
9:18:54 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PARKER:                                                                                                                     
Why do I think...                                                                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH:                                                                                                                 
I know it's your question and  it's your committee, but that just                                                               
seems like...                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
This is my committee.  I want to know why is it  that there is an                                                               
attitude against it? I'm not saying  just Mr. Guaneli, but why do                                                               
people  want  to keep  something  that  is so  harmless  illegal?                                                               
What's the reason?                                                                                                              
MR. PARKER:                                                                                                                     
Well  the  assistant  attorney  general is  a  long  time  public                                                               
servant.  It's the  Governor's bill.  I believe  he is  doing his                                                               
job. I assume he also believes it but I don't know that makes...                                                                
CHAIR SEEKINS                                                                                                                   
It  appears to  me  that  there are  at  least  two universes  of                                                               
people.  People who  say, "Oh  it's  harmless just  go ahead  and                                                               
regulate it" and other people  are saying, "It's not harmless and                                                               
it should  be illegal to  use it and  to sell  it and buy  it and                                                               
grow it and all  the rest of the stuff that  goes along with it."                                                               
I'm just trying to figure out,  it is because what I've gotten so                                                               
far is  it's a  matter of enlightenment.  Those people  who truly                                                               
understand the scientific background will  come over to one side.                                                               
Is that what it is? That's what I heard in the testimony.                                                                       
MR. PARKER:                                                                                                                     
I don't think  one side is enlightened over the  other. There was                                                               
a poll  done during the campaign  last year that says  45 percent                                                               
of the  Alaska population  dug in  on either  side. They  are not                                                               
swayed by arguments  or advertisements in either  way. Other side                                                               
thinks marijuana is evil and  should be eradicated from the land,                                                               
the  other side  thinks  it is  here  to stay  and  we should  do                                                               
something about  regulating it. In  the middle are 10  percent of                                                               
the voters.  When it came to  medical marijuana they voted  yes -                                                               
56 percent. When they came to  legal marijuana they voted no. The                                                               
poll seems to be true.  This testimony, these books, these papers                                                               
by the experts, is meant to present our side of the argument.                                                                   
9:21:35 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PARKER:                                                                                                                     
You  are in  a terrible  position to  try and  decide which  side                                                               
you're  on and  whose  experts  you listen  to  and  who in  your                                                               
district  you  listen to.  It  is  a  substantial minority  -  45                                                               
percent and  not legalizing it  is one thing, making  them felons                                                               
is quite another.                                                                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
It is  interesting because in  this very committee we  have bills                                                               
on  methamphetamines   and  on   marijuana.  And  in   this  very                                                               
committee, if I  take this logical extension, if  we regulate and                                                               
make methamphetamines legal, the problem  will be reduced. I have                                                               
a hard time  making that logical extension so I  have a hard time                                                               
making the direct application.                                                                                                  
MR. PARKER:                                                                                                                     
For  the  record,  I  am   not  advocating  the  legalization  of                                                               
methamphetamines; I'm just here to testify on SB 74. Thank you.                                                                 
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
Thank  you very  much  for  your patience  and  for answering  my                                                               
9:22:56 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
We  have before  us  revised  findings. I  think  we'll give  the                                                               
members a chance to  take a look at that before  we propose it as                                                               
an amendment. We've completed the public testimony.                                                                             
SENATOR FRENCH:                                                                                                                 
Mr.  Guaneli,  what  is  the  number of  arrests  each  year  for                                                               
marijuana, any charge, the number  of convictions, and the number                                                               
of cases disposed of at the highest charge?                                                                                     
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
That  is track-able  and  I can  provide you  with  much of  that                                                               
information  later  today. I  have  been  collecting some  of  it                                                               
helping the DOC  prepare fiscal notes and so I  have some of that                                                               
information in my office.                                                                                                       
9:24:42 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH referred  to a  chart that  Mr. Guaneli  spoke of                                                               
Do you agree with the  analysis that giving a marijuana cigarette                                                               
to someone under 21 would be a B felony under SB 74.                                                                            
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
That is correct. Distributing marijuana  to anyone under 21 would                                                               
be a B felony offense. Under current  law you have to be under 19                                                               
for it to be  a B felony offense and there has  to be three years                                                               
of  age difference  between them.  This proposal  seeks to  amend                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH:                                                                                                                 
Right now  the way the  law is if  an 18-year-old person  gives a                                                               
marijuana cigarette to an 18 year old, what crime is committed?                                                                 
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
Delivering  one marijuana  cigarette  at this  point  would be  a                                                               
class  B misdemeanor.  That's a  hold over  from the  early 1980s                                                               
period. I think that's a weakness in the current law.                                                                           
SENATOR FRENCH:                                                                                                                 
Under this  bill 18 year old  to 18 year  old would be a  class B                                                               
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
That's correct.                                                                                                                 
9:26:30 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
Mr. Guaneli, you've heard in  testimony earlier, those people who                                                               
work in  the administration who agree  with the premise of  SB 74                                                               
receive  accolades  and those  who  don't  receive some  kind  of                                                               
chilling behavior or disapproval. Are  you aware of anything like                                                               
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
I think  the testimony you heard  related to a hearing  in Senate                                                               
Health and  Social Service  at which  Barbara Brink,  director of                                                               
the public defender  agency, testified in opposition  to the bill                                                               
and Senator  Wilken took some  exception to  her doing so  in her                                                               
official capacity  rather than a  private capacity. I  think that                                                               
is what  the testimony  relates to. I  think that  Senator Wilken                                                               
has his  reasons for expressing  that view  and that is  the only                                                               
thing I've heard in all of these proceedings.                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
Have you had any pressure from  farther up the chain on what your                                                               
position on this bill should be?                                                                                                
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
I know  the Governor and  the attorney general support  this bill                                                               
and would  like to  see it  become law. I  have been  involved in                                                               
dealing  with  marijuana  issues  for many  years.  I  have  been                                                               
involved in some of the  litigation. I wrote the state's petition                                                               
to the  Supreme Court trying to  get the Supreme Court  to review                                                               
the Noy  Opinion, which  came out  from the  court of  appeals. I                                                               
have done  a lot of  literature research myself. It  doesn't take                                                               
any pressure to get me to be on this side of the issue.                                                                         
9:28:36 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
Would you believe that legalizing  and regulating marijuana would                                                               
cut back use by young people?                                                                                                   
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
I'm  not certain  I  know the  answer  to that  but  I think  Mr.                                                               
Parker's  opinion  that  marijuana  should  be  regulated  is  an                                                               
interesting  concession because  essentially  what  the right  to                                                               
privacy argument in the Ravin  decision says is, the state didn't                                                               
have  a  sufficient  interest  in  regulating  and  criminalizing                                                               
marijuana. In essence what the court  was saying and what all the                                                               
people  who talk  about right  to privacy  and the  state doesn't                                                               
have  a   sufficient  interest   is,  that   it's  none   of  the                                                               
Legislature's  business to  deal with  marijuana in  the home.  I                                                               
think that  the evidence  that has been  presented shows  that it                                                               
is.  Parental use  and parental  approval of  marijuana makes  it                                                               
more accessible  to kids.  I think the  Legislature has  a strong                                                               
interest.  What Mr.  Parker said  was, the  Legislature ought  to                                                               
regulate  it.  I  think  if  the Legislature  has  the  power  to                                                               
regulate it,  then I think that  is a concession that  there is a                                                               
state interest in  the Legislature to take  another policy choice                                                               
and that is  to criminalize it and to punish  it. Frankly I think                                                               
that makes  our point.  I think there  is sufficient  evidence in                                                               
the record that the Legislature  has a strong interest in dealing                                                               
with  marijuana in  the way  it chooses.  I don't  see any  other                                                               
state  in the  country regulating  it. Alaska  is the  only place                                                               
where recreational use is legal.                                                                                                
9:30:51 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR THERRIAULT:                                                                                                             
You indicated  you have  been tracking the  number of  cases that                                                               
would be swept in to the  Department of Corrections (DOC). I just                                                               
looked  at the  fiscal notes  and we  don't have  the DOC  fiscal                                                               
note. I'm curious to know what that is.                                                                                         
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
I'm aware of that and we  just had a discussion in the Governor's                                                               
office  bout getting  the  DOC fiscal  note and  that  is in  the                                                               
works. I  have a  meeting with  Portia Parker  later today  to go                                                               
over the  statistics and analyze  that. My initial  reaction from                                                               
looking at the statistics is, it's  not going to be a significant                                                               
SENATOR HUGGINS:                                                                                                                
I previously  asked Mr.  Parker about  the legal  dilemma between                                                               
the federal  law and the  state law. From your  perspective, what                                                               
does this do legally for you in your profession?                                                                                
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
In other words that marijuana is  illegal at the federal level. I                                                               
think it's confusing  to the public. They see on  the one hand it                                                               
is  federally  illegal and  in  fact  a Schedule  one  controlled                                                               
substance.  Frankly when  I talk  to people,  they ask  about the                                                               
federal  law.  As a  practical  matter,  the federal  authorities                                                               
don't get  involved in  marijuana at the  ounce level.  They have                                                               
certain  criteria and  I think  it was  somewhere in  the several                                                               
pounds  before they  would  get  involved. If  there  is a  large                                                               
marijuana growing operation they will  get involved but they have                                                               
left it  to the state. I  think that is probably  appropriate. We                                                               
all bristle when  the feds get too involved. In  this case I wish                                                               
they  were a  little more  involved. I  think this  bill corrects                                                               
9:34:32 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH:                                                                                                                 
I worked eight  years on the slope and I  was subjected to random                                                               
drug testing and I wasn't  subjected to any dilemma whatsoever. I                                                               
knew if I used drugs, I'd lose my job so I just didn't.                                                                         
SENATOR HUGGINS:                                                                                                                
My point  is that last week  they lived in Florida  and this week                                                               
they live  in Alaska and they  hear that marijuana is  legal here                                                               
and  they  use marijuana  with  a  random  drug  test in  a  zero                                                               
environment, they are out of here.                                                                                              
9:35:30 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GUESS:                                                                                                                  
As an  example, can you  tell me  someone who uses  marijuana for                                                               
personal use right  now in the home, if SB  74 passes and becomes                                                               
law, what will change in that person's situation?                                                                               
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
I have  never heard  it expressed by  any law  enforcement agency                                                               
that  they would  do  anything different  in  terms of  marijuana                                                               
investigations of  personal use in the  home. There are a  lot of                                                               
other offenses  out there to  be investigated  without concerning                                                               
the police  on marijuana use in  the home. On the  other hand, if                                                               
the police are  in the home legitimately, and  there is marijuana                                                               
there,  they certainly  won't hesitate  to  take it  and ask  the                                                               
district attorney  to file additional  charges. But the  focus of                                                               
their efforts  has been for  a long time, marijuana  growing, and                                                               
trying to  stem the supply.  The problem is the  recent decisions                                                               
by the court  of appeals, first in  the Noy case and  then in the                                                               
Crocker  case, have  limited  the police  ability  to get  search                                                               
warrants to  deal with marijuana  growing. That is what  ought to                                                               
change.  The marijuana  growers ought  to be  the most  concerned                                                               
about SB  74. They  are the  ones whose  lives will  be disrupted                                                               
because SB  74 will allow  the police  to get search  warrants to                                                               
investigate those cases.                                                                                                        
SENATOR GUESS:                                                                                                                  
So if that changes then the price goes up.                                                                                      
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
That is usually  what happens when supply goes down  if demand is                                                               
also not reduced. We are hoping  that by sending a strong message                                                               
out that  demand will be reduced  as well. I hope  the price goes                                                               
9:38:17 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GUESS:                                                                                                                  
Is that also the case with  knock and talks? That law enforcement                                                               
believes that there won't be any increase?                                                                                      
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
The police  technique of knock  and talk  is simply knock  on the                                                               
door and see  if the people will admit it.  Often times, they do.                                                               
Usually  that activity  is geared  at  getting information  about                                                               
marijuana  growing and  not simply  to go  after personal  using.                                                               
They use that to get  information about where marijuana is coming                                                               
from and about  who actually is growing it. I  don't anticipate a                                                               
huge increase.                                                                                                                  
SENATOR GUESS:                                                                                                                  
If the  focus is on  growing and the  supply side, explain  to me                                                               
why the  bill focuses on  the possession  side and the  one pound                                                               
and the four ounces? Why that is the policy call?                                                                               
MR. GUANELI                                                                                                                     
The bill  definitely does draw  different lines in terms  of what                                                               
amount  of possession  triggers either  misdemeanor penalties  or                                                               
felony penalties.  Currently it takes  over a pound  of marijuana                                                               
in possession to be a felony.  SB 74 would propose to reduce that                                                               
to four ounces. Captain Herrington  testified that four ounces is                                                               
a lot  of marijuana. You're  talking about $1,000-1,500  in value                                                               
and  something that  makes  perhaps in  excess  of 400  marijuana                                                               
cigarettes.  Because  the THC  potency  decreases  over time  the                                                               
person either has to  use an awful lot to use it  up or they have                                                               
to sell  it. If  you've got  a quarter  pound, that  is a  lot of                                                               
marijuana  and that  is something  the law  ought to  discourage.                                                               
When  you  discourage  possession  of  the  larger  amounts,  you                                                               
discourage  growing. To  the  extent you  reduce  that supply  by                                                               
increasing  the  penalties  for  possession  of  certain  amounts                                                               
allowing the troopers to go  in and start investigating marijuana                                                               
growing, you  reduce its availability  generally, and  you reduce                                                               
its accessibility  to kids  and you  reduce its  accessibility to                                                               
rural Alaska villages.                                                                                                          
9:41:49 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH:                                                                                                                 
Why not  focus on  that because  it seems like  you are  on solid                                                               
ground.  Marijuana  is  more  expensive  and  marijuana  is  more                                                               
potent;  the idea  of lowering  the four  ounces. The  amount you                                                               
need to make a felony might be  a rational call. That is just one                                                               
portion of this  chart and there are five others.  One makes it a                                                               
B felony  for one 19  year old to  hand a marijuana  cigarette to                                                               
another 19  year old.  Part of it  makes it a  crime to  have any                                                               
even if you're  not using it, while  you're in a car.  Part of it                                                               
makes it a  crime to possess any  amount in the home.  If you are                                                               
aimed  at  drug growing  and  drug  production, that  splits  the                                                               
troublesome argument away and leaves us all in total agreement.                                                                 
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
The specific proposal  to make it a B felony  for young people to                                                               
give  other  young  people  small   amounts  of  marijuana  is  a                                                               
reflection  of  the new  reality  about  marijuana. Because  it's                                                               
potent,  it's  often  sold  on  a  cigarette-by-cigarette  basis,                                                               
particularly in  rural Alaska.  Because it is  so expensive  on a                                                               
per-ounce basis, kids can only afford  one or two cigarettes at a                                                               
time so  you have a  situation where  that has become  the normal                                                               
vehicle for selling, is a cigarette  at a time. I think that this                                                               
is trying  to get at  that new  reflection of reality.  We've got                                                               
smaller  and  smaller  amounts   being  the  normal  vehicle  for                                                               
marijuana being sold and second we've  got it going to kids. That                                                               
was a  reflection of  that. Is  that the  most important  part of                                                               
this bill?  No. But we  tried to  reflect the current  reality of                                                               
the way  marijuana is being  used and  the patterns of  usage and                                                               
tried to deal with that.                                                                                                        
9:44:25 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH:                                                                                                                 
I  know this  bill  is  leaving committee  fairly  soon. I  would                                                               
appreciate  having the  opportunity  to review  the findings  and                                                               
prepare an amendment. That is my request.                                                                                       
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
I'm trying  to figure out  what motivates everybody. What  do you                                                               
think motivates the side that does not want this to pass?                                                                       
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
I think  that there  are probably a  variety of  motivations. I'd                                                               
like to  think the ACLU motivation  is simply a matter  of trying                                                               
to preserve  its perception  of constitutional  rights regardless                                                               
of the context.  For other people, Debbie Soule and  Jim Welch, I                                                               
think  that some  of  those people  have  concerns about  medical                                                               
marijuana. As I testified in  my very first appearance here, this                                                               
bill does  not make any change  to the medical marijuana  laws. I                                                               
think there  is a whole  other segment  that simply likes  to use                                                               
marijuana.  It's  another recreational  way  to  become high  and                                                               
intoxicated. I think they don't see  that it goes beyond the four                                                               
walls of their  house, or they like to think  that it doesn't and                                                               
I like to think that it does.                                                                                                   
9:46:57 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GUESS:                                                                                                                  
In response  to some of  the testimony  we have heard  on medical                                                               
marijuana, it might  be that our current law isn't  doing what we                                                               
intended it  to do.  Have you  all looked at  the issue  that was                                                               
raised today?                                                                                                                   
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
This bill does not change medical  marijuana laws in any way. Ms.                                                               
Soule's  testimony today  was "the  State of  Alaska has  made it                                                               
impossible for doctors to prescribe  marijuana", actually the law                                                               
makes  it very  clear that  doctors don't  have to  prescribe it,                                                               
it's  just a  recommendation  and as  long as  they  talk to  the                                                               
patient about it  and the pros and cons, that's  enough. She also                                                               
said,  "I  know  I  can  grow  up to  six  plants  but  it  isn't                                                               
practical", six plants  can be a lot. The law  says only three of                                                               
them can  be mature  plants. Captain Herrington  said they  had a                                                               
recent  marijuana  growing  operation  where they  had  five  big                                                               
plants  and that  was  a  commercial operation.  So  I think  the                                                               
Legislature  has done  a very  good job  saying they  can have  a                                                               
rotating crop. That  makes sense, and in addition,  they said, it                                                               
doesn't  have to  be the  patient  himself who  grows those,  the                                                               
statute says you  can have a care-giver who does  the growing for                                                               
you, and  because there was concern  at the time of  what happens                                                               
if the care-giver  is on vacation or sick, there  is a concept in                                                               
the  Alaska medical  marijuana law  for an  alternate care-giver.                                                               
You  really have  three people  who can  grow the  marijuana. The                                                               
Legislature at  the time  thought that was  an acceptable  way of                                                               
allowing medical marijuana to be  provided. Ever since that time,                                                               
since Ravin, selling  marijuana has been illegal so  none of that                                                               
has ever changed. My feeling is  the medical marijuana law is set                                                               
up in a way to make it  as convenient as possible for patients to                                                               
be able to  grow it or find  someone to grow it  for them without                                                               
making it  so broad that  it runs  the risk of  circumventing the                                                               
law. Senator  Dyson's comments  of taking that  up in  a separate                                                               
bill, maybe that is the right approach.                                                                                         
9:50:10 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GUESS:                                                                                                                  
She  was  incorrect that  she  needs  a  prescription to  not  be                                                               
MR. GUANELI:                                                                                                                    
That's  correct.  A  prescription   is  not  required.  That  was                                                               
specifically  put in  the law  because there  was concern  at the                                                               
time  the  federal  government   was  talking  about  if  doctors                                                               
actually prescribed  illegal marijuana that they  might take some                                                               
action against their licenses.                                                                                                  
CHAIR SEEKINS:                                                                                                                  
Other questions? We will have time  for members to take a look at                                                               
the  proposed  findings  and  other  information.  We  will  give                                                               
adequate notice  to all the parties.  SB 74 will be  carried over                                                               
for a future date.                                                                                                              
Chair Seekins announced a brief recess at 9:51:07 AM.                                                                         
Chair Seekins reconvened the meeting at 10:02:25 AM.                                                                          
          SB 125-LICENSING MEDICAL OR CARE FACILITIES                                                                       
10:02:44 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS announced SB 125 to be up for consideration.                                                                      
DR.  RICHARD  MANDSAGER,  director, Division  of  Public  Health,                                                               
introduced SB 125.                                                                                                              
CHAIR  SEEKINS advised  the committee  they were  working off  of                                                               
Version \F.                                                                                                                     
DR.  MANDSAGER  informed  the  committee he  would  use  a  slide                                                               
presentation to introduce SB 125.                                                                                               
The slide  presentation, "Protecting and Promoting  the Health of                                                               
all Alaskans", can be found in the bill packet.                                                                                 
10:04:05 AM                                                                                                                   
DR.  MANDSAGER announced  he is  please  to introduce  SB 125  on                                                               
behalf  of  the  Governor.  The  bill does  two  things;  one  is                                                               
implementation   and  standardization   of   the  licensing   and                                                               
certification functions  in the  Department of Health  and Social                                                               
Services (DHSS), and it is  also a background review of employees                                                               
working in the programs who serve vulnerable populations.                                                                       
The present  statutory and  regulatory environment  has developed                                                               
over time with  different sets of statutes and  different sets of                                                               
regulations.  There  are  great   differences  in  how  different                                                               
provider types are evaluated in  terms of their employees, and as                                                               
institutions, different background checks.                                                                                      
10:06:23 AM                                                                                                                   
CMS, the  national organization  for Medicare  is pushing  a move                                                               
nationally to  deal with  the issue of  background checks  and to                                                               
try and improve  the knowledge about employees  working in fields                                                               
in terms  of long-term care.  Alaska was awarded a  pilot program                                                               
grant in December of 2004  to determine whether DHSS could reduce                                                               
the amount of fraud and neglect.                                                                                                
Slide 4                                                                                                                         
Currently  19  programs  are  administered   under  at  least  12                                                               
different statutory schemes for licensure by DHSS.                                                                              
10:10:19 AM                                                                                                                   
Slide 5                                                                                                                         
The three units that have  been consolidated represent Phase I of                                                               
the consolidation process.                                                                                                      
SENATOR  FRENCH   asked  Dr.  Mandsager  to   explain  the  green                                                               
DR.   MANDSAGER   advised   it  represented   certification   and                                                               
licensing, which is a new unit created this year.                                                                               
Slide 6                                                                                                                         
Centralized Licensing and Related Administrative Procedures                                                                     
Slide 7                                                                                                                         
How  CSSB  125  impacts  the  existing  statutory  definition  of                                                               
current DHSS licensing programs.                                                                                                
Slide 8                                                                                                                         
What's in CSSB 125?                                                                                                             
     Addition of a new chapter to centralize licensing and                                                                      
administration of covered entities                                                                                              
     Addition of a new article to centralize background checks                                                                  
and registry functions                                                                                                          
     Updates to existing statutes                                                                                               
     Establishes the timeline for implementation                                                                                
10:12:38 AM                                                                                                                   
Slide 9                                                                                                                         
The key provisions of CSSB 125                                                                                                  
Slide 10                                                                                                                        
Excerpt from current regulatory crosswalk                                                                                       
This concluded the slide presentation.                                                                                          
10:16:25 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS  asked a question regarding  childcare regulations.                                                               
She explained she  had two constituents who  lost their childcare                                                               
license, one  because of check  fraud and one for  being arrested                                                               
for  assault while  being  potentially  sexually assaulted.  Both                                                               
situations ended  up in  the new  regulations under  the variance                                                               
section.  She  asked  whether the  variance  licensing  would  be                                                               
continuing or changing.                                                                                                         
MS. STACY  KRALY, senior  assistant attorney  general, Department                                                               
of Law  (DOL) answered the  majority of the new  licensing scheme                                                               
could be  very easily characterized as  a cut and paste.  The DOL                                                               
kept the licensure provisions that are still consistent.                                                                        
10:19:08 AM                                                                                                                   
DR.   MANDSAGER  added   the   language  is   useful  from   both                                                               
perspectives. Variances should  be able to be  issued. He offered                                                               
to explain his  proposed two amendments, most of which  had to do                                                               
with renumbering.                                                                                                               
10:20:37 AM                                                                                                                   
DR.  MANDSAGER  commented  there  were many  different  kinds  of                                                               
volunteers and  DHSS needs  to foster  them. Volunteers  would be                                                               
defined in regulation and would be subject to background checks.                                                                
10:24:12 AM                                                                                                                   
DR. MANDSAGER  explained immunity protection is  offered to those                                                               
who report abuse.                                                                                                               
10:25:20 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. KRALY explained  an individual would be  notified when placed                                                               
on the registry  so that they could challenge  their placement if                                                               
need be.                                                                                                                        
10:27:24 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR THERRIAULT moved Amendment 1.                                                                                           
     Amendment to CSSB 125 (HES) in SJUD                                                                                    
Page 8, following line 19:                                                                                                      
     Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                         
   "*Sec. 16.  AS 44.62.330(a) is amended by adding a new                                                                     
paragraph to read:                                                                                                              
               (45)  Department of Health and Social Services as                                                                
to the licensing centralized registry under AS 47.05.330 -                                                                      
Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                               
Page 14, line 21, following "employee":                                                                                         
     Insert "or volunteer"                                                                                                      
Page 14, line 22, following "(1)":                                                                                              
     Insert "decisions,"                                                                                                        
     Following "applicant":                                                                                                     
     Insert ","                                                                                                                 
     Delete "or"                                                                                                                
Page 14, line 23:                                                                                                               
     Delete "the"                                                                                                               
     Following "employee":                                                                                                      
     Insert ", or volunteer"                                                                                                    
Page 14, line 24, following "jurisdiction":                                                                                     
     Insert "or medical assistance fraud under AS 47.05.210 or a                                                                
substantially similar provision in another jurisdiction"                                                                        
Page 15, line 2:                                                                                                                
     Delete "and"                                                                                                               
     Following "employees":                                                                                                     
     Insert ", and volunteers"                                                                                                  
Page 15, following line 2:                                                                                                      
     Insert  new subsections to read:                                                                                           
     "(d) An entity, individual service provider, or employee or                                                                
volunteer  of  an entity  or  individual  service provider  shall                                                               
report to  the department  if a court  issues a  decision, order,                                                               
judgment,  or adjudication  that the  entity, individual  service                                                               
provider,  or   the  employee  or  volunteer   committed  medical                                                               
assistance fraud  or abuse, neglect,  or exploitation of  a child                                                               
or a vulnerable  adult.  An entity,  individual service provider,                                                               
or  employee or  volunteer  of an  entity  or individual  service                                                               
provider  shall make  a report  under this  subsection within  24                                                               
hours of  receiving a decision, order,  judgment, or adjudication                                                               
of medical  assistance fraud or  abuse, neglect,  or exploitation                                                               
of a child or vulnerable adult.                                                                                                 
     (e)  An entity or individual service provider shall report                                                                 
to the department any allegation  that an employee, volunteer, or                                                               
former  employee or  volunteer has  committed, not  more than  10                                                               
years  ago,  medical  assistance  fraud  or  abuse,  neglect,  or                                                               
exploitation of  a child or  vulnerable adult  receiving services                                                               
from the  entity or  individual service provider.   An  entity or                                                               
individual  service  provider  shall  make a  report  under  this                                                               
subsection   within  24   hours  of   receiving  notice   of  the                                                               
Page 15, line 3:                                                                                                                
     Delete "(d)"                                                                                                               
     Insert "(f)"                                                                                                               
Page 15, line 5:                                                                                                                
     Delete "(e)"                                                                                                               
     Insert "(g)"                                                                                                               
Page 15, lines 10 - 11:                                                                                                         
     Delete all material.                                                                                                       
     Insert "(h)  Information contained on the registry is                                                                      
confidential  and not  subject to  public inspection  and copying                                                               
under  AS 40.25.110  - 40.25.125.   However,  in accordance  with                                                               
this  section   and  regulations  adopted  under   AS  47.05.380,                                                               
information  contained  on  the   registry  may  be  released  to                                                               
authorized   entities,   individual    service   providers,   and                                                               
governmental agencies."                                                                                                         
Page 15, lines 9 - 11:                                                                                                          
     Delete all material.                                                                                                       
     Insert "(i)  A person who makes a report of medical                                                                        
assistance  fraud, abuse,  neglect,  or  exploitation or  submits                                                               
information to the  registry, or an entity  or individual service                                                               
provider that  fails to  hire or retain  an employee  because the                                                               
employee is included on the registry, is presumed to be acting                                                                  
in good faith and shall be immune from civil liability and                                                                      
criminal liability."                                                                                                            
Page 15, line 15:                                                                                                               
     Delete "(h)"                                                                                                               
     Insert "(j)"                                                                                                               
Page 15, line 29, following "AS 47.32.010(b)"                                                                                   
     Insert "and an owner, officer, director, member, and                                                                       
partner of the entity"                                                                                                          
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SENATOR GUESS objected for the purpose of discussion and asked                                                                  
who is tasked with making the report within 24 hrs.                                                                             
MS. KRELY advised it would be a mandatory reporting requirement                                                                 
and either the employer of DHSS would make the report to the                                                                    
keeper of the registry.                                                                                                         
SENATOR GUESS asked about an off-hours system.                                                                                  
MS. KRELY advised an 800 number or e-mail would be available.                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS advised  the  committee he  intended  to have  the                                                               
amendments  incorporated into  a  committee  substitute (CS)  and                                                               
give  them  an opportunity  to  view  the final  document  before                                                               
voting on it.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS asked the penalty for late reporting.                                                                             
DR. MANDSAGER advised it was defined in the regulations.                                                                        
Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                                        
SENATOR GUESS moved Amendment 2.                                                                                                
Amendment #2 to CSSB 125 (HES) in SJUD                                                                                      
Page 22, following line 27:                                                                                                     
     Insert a new subsection to read:                                                                                           
     "(b)  The department shall, within 90 days after receiving                                                                 
a written request that it do  so, delegate its powers relating to                                                               
child care facilities  under this chapter to  a municipality that                                                               
has  adopted  an ordinance  providing  for  child care  licensing                                                               
under home rule powers under  AS 29.10.010 or as authorized under                                                               
AS 29.35.200 -  29.35.210.  A municipality to  which these powers                                                               
have  been   delegated  may   adopt,  by   ordinance,  additional                                                               
requirements  for  child  care facilities  operating  within  its                                                               
boundaries if  the requirements meet  or exceed  the requirements                                                               
adopted by the department."                                                                                                     
Page 22, line 28:                                                                                                               
     Delete "(b)"                                                                                                               
     Insert "(c)"                                                                                                               
Hearing no objections, the motion carried.                                                                                      
10:35:00 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS advised Representative Sharon Cissna the committee                                                                
adopted two amendments for incorporation into a CS. He asked                                                                    
that her testimony be confined to that.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA noted the committee had not progressed to                                                                 
the point in SB 125 that she was concerned about. She offered to                                                                
speak at a future hearing.                                                                                                      
10:38:56 AM                                                                                                                   
SB 125 was held in committee.                                                                                                   
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Seekins adjourned the meeting at 10:39:45 AM.                                                                           

Document Name Date/Time Subjects