Alaska Marijuana Legislation By August: Will State Go To Pot?

An organization called the The Alaska Campaign to Regulate Marijuana claims to have obtained more than 46,000 signatures on a petition to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state.

Now the state Division of Elections must approve the signatures, and the proposition wording will be framed for the ballot. The sponsors of the initiative must then mount a publicity campaign to garner support.

Tim Hinterberger, one of the three sponsors, and a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s School of Medical Education says: “We’ll be taking our message to the voters in lots of different ways. It’s clear to everyone that prohibition is a failed policy.”

Marijuana has been legal in Alaska for medical use since 1998.

A proposal to extend the recreational use of marijuana in 2000 failed. Hinterberger said he was involved in the earlier effort, but he now believes that attitudes have changed, and this has encouraged the sponsors to try again this year.

“We were waiting to see what would be a good time to revisit it and the opportunity arose to have some outside support to help move things along.”

Groups advocating this new legislation will receive help from the Marijuana Policy Project, which was partly responsible for the successful legalization effort in Colorado. A few months ago, a Gallup poll reported that a clear majority of Americans favor legalization — the first time the pollsters found such results since tracking began in 1969.

If the law is changed, Alaska would become the third state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, joining Colorado and Washington. Sales of marijuana began in Colorado on Jan 1; sales in Washington are due to begin in the next few months.

After Alaska, the next state for action will be Oregon, where they hope to get the issue on the ballot later this year. If that move fails, they will push to get it on the 2016 ballot, along with ballots in six other states: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, and Nevada.

The stage after that will include Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Today, a high-quality ounce of pot will set you back about $290 in Alaska, according to more than 250 anonymous reports collected at Priceofweed.com.