Alaska Becomes Third State To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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Annabelle Bamforth
New Hampshire-based writer Annabelle Bamforth is TruthInMedia.com's editor-in-chief, focused on breaking the left/right paradigm through new media and local politics. To share a news tip, contact annabelle@truthinmedia.com.

Recreational marijuana in Alaska became legal on Tuesday following the November 2014 passage of Ballot Measure 2, a voter initiative approving recreational adult use. Ballot Measure 2 was approved by about 52% of voters. Alaska is now the third state to legalize recreational marijuana, joining Colorado and Washington.

Regulations are still being drafted detailing the sale and taxation of marijuana. Individuals 21 years of age or older may possess up to one ounce of marijuana and can grow up to six plants. Only three of those plants would be allowed to be flowering. Smoking it in public is illegal, as is driving under the influence.

While private exchanges of marijuana are allowed, money is not allowed to be involved in the exchanges. “You can still give people marijuana, but you can’t buy it — or even barter for it,” said Alexandra Gutierrez of Alaska Public Media.

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Business license applications for marijuana will be accepted beginning in February 2016. Gutierrez said that stores are expected to be licensed and operational sometime next year.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker introduced a bill on Monday to establish a new Marijuana Control Board that would be in charge of marijuana regulation and grant authority to enforce the laws. “Importantly, the bill would give the Marijuana Control Board the power to enforce its regulations, including the ability to use peace officer powers to enforce the criminally punishable laws and regulations relating to marijuana,” Walker explained.

The Marijuana Policy Project announced a plan to place bus ads in Anchorage advocating for responsible marijuana use now that recreational marijuana is legal. “With great marijuana laws comes great responsibility,” the ad reads. The advertising points to consumeresponsibly.org, which provides information regarding legalization. The site also cautions people to use marijuana responsibly: users are advised to refrain from driving after smoking or consuming, to keep marijuana away from children and pets, and to respect aversions that others may have in the presence of marijuana.

The Anchorage Police Department has urged marijuana users to be aware of the laws and regulations already in place with a “Know Your Grow” section of their website. “Ultimately the concern of the police department is the safety and health of our public,” Anchorage police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro said. “We want to make sure that people are not operating their vehicle impaired or under the influence of marijuana.”

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