Alaska Could Be the Next State to Legalize Marijuana


Jacob Sullum

Possession and consumption of marijuana have been legal in Alaska since 1975, when the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that such activity is protected by the state constitution as long as it is confined to the privacy of the home and involves "personal use" amounts. It looks like an initiative that finally addresses the question of where people are supposed to get this pot they are allowed to smoke will be on the ballot this August, which could make Alaska the first state to join Colorado and Washington in legalizing marijuana. This week an official count certified enough signatures to qualify the initiative, which aims to "regulate marijuana like alcohol." 

Like Colorado's Amendment 64, the Alaska initiative would allow adults 21 or older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time, grow up to six plants at home, and transfer up to an ounce at a time to other adults "without remuneration." It authorizes state-licensed growers, cannabis product manufacturers, and retailers, to be regulated by Alaska's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board or a separate agency created by the state legislature.

A recent survey by Public Policy Polling put support for legalizing marijuana at 55 percent in Alaska, similar to the poll numbers seen in Colorado and Washington prior to the 2012 elections, which accurately predicted the results in those states. Alaska's lone congressman, Don Young, a Republican, is a co-sponsor of the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, which declares that the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act dealing with cannabis "shall not apply to any person acting in compliance with state laws." Young says "it's a states' rights issue, period."

Also this week, two legalization initiatives were approved for signature gathering in California, where voters rejected legalization in 2010 by an eight-point margin. They would appear on the November ballot if they qualify.  

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  1. If Iowa could get on board this train within 10 years, I could spend my retirement in a haze.

    1. As attractive a retirement state as Iowa surely is, have you consider Colorado or Washington? Or, realistically, California?

      1. I already have a 3,000 sq ft house on 1.2 acres of land. The mini-orchard gets planted in 2 months (for hard cider), and the mini-vineyard in a year or so (for wine). Once I can legally plant pot, I’ll be set for life.

    2. I owe a lot to Iowa pot
      Iowa grown is grand
      I never knew such beautiful boo
      Grew in this groovy land I’m in
      I’m indebted indeed to this wonderful weed
      Iowa bred and born
      I owe a lot to Iowa pot
      And that’s not just Iowa corn

      — Napoleon XIV

      Somebody needs to put that song back on Youtube.

      1. I should’ve checked before I wrote that. Turns out it is back on Youtube, for a full year now. I can’t believe it’s been that long since I last looked for it.

  2. Just a couple more states and the feds are in serious trouble over this. Come on, Alaska, Hawaii, whoever. Let’s go. Especially Hawaii, because it’s extremely easy for me to get weed when I go, but I want it to be SUPER easy. Or for me to be able to load some of my own weed into my luggage without worries.

    1. Why aim so low? How nice would it be to be able to carry it on the plane with you so you can enjoy it while you’re waiting to get your luggage?

      1. Have you ever been to Hawaii or been in a Hawaiian airport? If you even think of smoking (anything) in it they’ll toss you out in a fraction of a second. Most of the hotels technically (I say technically because I ignore them) don’t allow smoking (anything) even out on balconies or on the roof.

        1. I have not; though I have grand aspirations to go some day. I had been thinking you would smoke outside, but it sounds like they might get after you for that, too. Are they just control-happy or does it have something to do with an image to maintain, you think?

  3. What we need is for Delaware or Rhode Island to do that. Then it will be impossible to keep any pretense of illegitimacy in the entire BosWash area.

    1. According to MPP, there’s a live fight in the RI legislature. Freakin’ NH is even getting in on the action.

  4. Someone catch Leonhart; she’s about to have the vapors.

  5. As a cannabis consumer, I’m incredibly paranoid about politics. [INSERT JOKE]. Until a few years ago, we always seemed to Charlie Brown having the football snatched away from us.

    There are still setbacks on the marijuana front. Arizona has been painfully slow. Montana and Michigan have gone backwards. Oregon screwed up what seemed like it should have been a sure thing.

    But despite my constitutional pessimism, EVEN I am predicting a win in ol’ Seward’s Icebox.

    But a far more fateful and precarious contest will be going on in Florida in November.

    Also, what’s the over-under that Seattle’s store’s will open before Alaska’s plebiscite?

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