Feb 26 Alaska voters will decide this summer
whether America's Last Frontier will become the third U.S. state
to legalize the sale and recreational use of marijuana for
adults under a proposal that officially qualified on Wednesday
for a statewide ballot.
Alaska Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell formally certified
that a petition campaign for the measure had gathered more than
36,000 valid signatures from registered voters, nearly 6,000
more than legally required to qualify.
The marijuana initiative, and a separate measure to raise
the state's minimum wage by $2 an hour to $9.75 by January 2016,
will be placed on the state's primary election ballot on Aug.
Passage of the marijuana initiative would permit adults 21
and older to possess up to one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana for
private personal use and to grow as many as six cannabis plants
for their own consumption.
It also charts a course for state-regulated commercial sales
of pot in a framework similar to systems established by Colorado
and Washington state after voters in those states became the
first to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012.
Colorado and Washington's marijuana sales are likewise
patterned after the system adopted by many states for alcohol
Under the Alaska measure, the state would collect a tax of
$50 per ounce of marijuana at the wholesale level.
The push to legalize recreational pot use in Alaska, which
is among 20 states that already allow medical marijuana, is part
of a broader state-by-state effort to end prohibition of the
drug, which remains classified as an illegal narcotic under
Activists in Oregon also are gathering signatures to put a
legalization measure on the 2014 ballot in that state.
"A bipartisan tidal wave of public support for regulating
marijuana like alcohol in Alaska has pushed this issue onto the
ballot, and we will be running an aggressive campaign designed
to build momentum on that," said campaign spokesman Taylor
He said efforts at prohibition have failed, and the
signatures collected by the pro-marijuana campaign reflect a
call for a more "sensible approach."
"There is more public dialogue about marijuana taking place
than ever before," said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the
Denver-based Marijuana Policy Project. "It won't be long before
we see similar steps being taken in other states."
(Reporting by Steve Quinn; Editing by Steve Gorman and Ken