Second hearing unnecessary in Craig marijuana grow operation
March 09, 2007
In 2003 Michael and Maria Lineker pled no contest to charges of misconduct involving a controlled substance in the fourth degree for possession of 50 marijuana plants found in a hidden room in their home in Craig, Alaska.
The Linekers appealed their drug convictions claiming the marijuana was grown to be used in their religion. The Alaska Court of Appeals remanded the case back to Judge Larry Weeks for a two-part evidentiary hearing. The first hearing was to decide whether there was a religion and whether the Lineker's had a sincere belief in that religion. The second hearing was scheduled for May 2007 to allow expert testimony on whether the State had a compelling interest to justify regulation of marijuana if used for religious purposes.
At the conclusion of a 10-page order issued March 1, Judge Weeks determined that, "there is no religion in the Lineker's professed belief system and that those beliefs are not sincere religious beliefs and a second hearing is not necessary."
"This matter was remanded
to the trial court for a determination of whether a meritorious
constitutional claim could be advanced to shield the Linekers
from punishment for conduct that clearly violates Alaska law,"
said Richard Svobodny, Chief Assistant Attorney General for the
Department of Law's Criminal Division. "In my opinion the
order speaks for itself. Judge Weeks determined that Mr. Lineker's
current statements about his beliefs did not amount to a religion."
Based on that ruling Judge Weeks determined that there was no
need for a second hearing.
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