Alaska looks like it may be the next great American stoner state, as election officials report that an initiative aimed at legalizing recreational marijuana has received enough valid signatures to earn a spot on the ballot this summer.
Reports indicate the initiative managed to collect 31,593 qualified signatures, nearly 1,500 more than the state’s requirement. "It's a matter now of officially getting the certification documents signed by the lieutenant governor,” said Gail Fenumiai, director of Alaska Division of Elections. Those documents are expected to receive approval within the next couple of weeks.
Organizers of the initiative say the time has obviously come to end marijuana prohibition in Alaska. "Based on the Division of Elections numbers, it appears Alaskans will have the opportunity to replace failed policies of marijuana prohibition with a system where marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol,'' said Taylor Bickford, representative for Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska.
If voters pass the initiative into law, adults 21 and older would be allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants. The new law would also lay the groundwork for a state-taxed and regulated retail marijuana trade.
Although no formal opposition to the initiative has come forward, Kevin Sabet, key member of the anti-legalization effort Smart Approaches to Marijuana, says his organization plans to launch a campaign in Alaska very soon.
Meanwhile, Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, says that an independent poll his organization conducted in 2013 pointed towards the majority of Alaskans supporting the legalization and taxation of marijuana -- 54 percent support it.
"Voters are quickly coming to realize that marijuana is not remotely as harmful as they were once led to believe,'' said Tvert. “ If voters take an objective look at the evidence, they will likely arrive at the conclusion that marijuana prohibition has been just as wasteful and problematic as alcohol prohibition.''
As of now, marijuana is decriminalized in Alaska, with residents being permitted to have up to four ounces in their personal dwellings.
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.