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Backers of Marijuana in Alaska Want 2014 Vote

Alaska voters may get the chance next year to make their state the third in the country to approve the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 and older.

Backers of the move on Tuesday took the first step toward getting the measure on the August 2014 primary ballot. Three prime sponsors of the effort filed their application for an initiative petition along with signatures from what they say are at least 100 other supporters with the state lieutenant governor’s office.

The group is led by Tim Hinterberger, an associate professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The other two prime sponsors are Bill Parker and Mary Reff, according to Gail Fenumiai, state elections director.

The measure would tax and regulate marijuana sales and allow Alaskans to cultivate marijuana for personal use. Among other things, it would allow the Legislature to create a Marijuana Control Board, though until then, the Alcohol Beverage Control Board would regulate marijuana sales. Alaskans age 21 and older could legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana under the proposal, or six marijuana plants, three of which could be mature.

If state officials decide everything’s in order after a 60-day review, backers will have until mid-January to get signatures from another 30,169 people — 10 percent of the number who voted in the last general election — to force a vote, said Steve Fox, the national political director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization group in Washington. The Marijuana Policy Project is working with the local committee.

The signatures would have to be gathered from at least 30 of the state’s 40 House districts, under procedures specified in the state constitution.

Alaskans rejected a legalization initiative in 2004, with only 44 percent of the state’s voters backing the idea. But Alaska’s marijuana laws are among the most liberal in the nation. In 1975, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that a person’s privacy included the right to possess up to 4 ounces of marijuana in his or her home — which is more than the new proposal would allow.


Complete Article:

Source: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Author: Rob Hotakainen and Lisa Demers, Anchorage Daily News
Published: April 16, 2013
Copyright: 2013 The Anchorage Daily News

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