Tag Archives: Alaska

Alaska Becomes Third State To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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.

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.”

Layoffs Begin as States React to Major Drop in Oil Prices

Given the major drop in the price of crude oil, states that are dependent on the revenue from oil and gas, such as Texas, Alaska, and Louisiana, are now preparing for the effect the falling prices will have on their local economies.

The Advocate reported that oil prices, which dropped from $106 a barrel in June, to $55.73 a barrel in December, experienced a “47 percent price decline in less than six months.”

According to Reuters, this major drop in crude oil prices was met with “at least a dozen U.S. energy companies” being forced to cut spending plans for next year, which is “bad news for states that rely on jobs, wealth and tax income they provide.

The Associated Press reported that the Governor of Alaska, Bill Walker, “halted new spending on six high-profile projects,” on Friday, citing the state’s “$3.5 billion budget deficit, which has increased as oil prices have dropped sharply.

According to the New York Times, in Texas, after “2,300 oil and gas jobs” were cut in October and November, Hercules Offshore in Houston has announced that it will “lay off about 300 employees who work on the company’s rigs in the Gulf of Mexico” by the end of December.

Reuters reported that following the layoffs, realtors in Texas are “predicting a sharp decline, up to 12 percent, in home sales next year.”

According to RT, Louisiana’s 2015-16 budget will be “$1.4 billion short, with 162 state government positions already eliminated and more to be discontinued.”

Dale Doucet, an energy trader for Brock Investor Service in Lafayette, Louisiana, told The Advocate that the price of oil could fall further, but he predicts that the cut in production, along with the rising world demand, will raise prices in 2015.

When you go into these pricing extremes, it really stresses the system and exposes vulnerabilities,” Doucet said.

Kristy Nichols, the chief budget advisor to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, said that when creating future budgets, they are re-examining everything in the oil and gas industry.

Our approach to the 2016 budget includes a full review of every activity in every agency’s budget and the cost associated with them,” said Nichols. “Nothing is off the table at this point.”

While the current decline in oil prices has had a major effect, the New York Times reported that the situation today “could have been far worse if oil-producing states had failed to diversify their economies,” following the last major drop in the 1980s.

Anchorage, AK Municipal Assembly Rejects City-Wide Ban on Pot Sales, Cultivation

During this year’s November 4 election, voters in Alaska approved a referendum, Ballot Measure 2, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in the state. However, the fine print in the measure allows municipalities to opt out of legalization, which pitted pro-pot activists against prohibitionists in a city-level showdown in Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska in terms of population. According to KTVA CBS-11 News, the Anchorage, AK Municipal Assembly considered an ordinance on December 16 that would have banned commercial marijuana transactions and grow operations within the city.

The proposed ordinance had been introduced by Assembly member Amy Demboski, who is running for mayor. She argued that a recreational pot industry could put Alaskan taxpayers into a complicated state of legal limbo with the feds. Said Demboski, “The fact of the matter is marijuana is still a [Schedule 1 drug] — it’s still federally illegal, so if we as a city decide to opt into a commercialized industry that’s based on an illegal federal substance, what impacts does that have to the taxpayers?” As U-T San Diego points out, the Department of Justice has signaled multiple times over the past few years that it does not intend to aggressively pursue pot convictions in states that have legalized marijuana, though it has asserted that it has the right to do so.

Kim Kole, an Anchorage-area teacher and pro-pot activist who has been called the “new face of marijuana legalization” by KTUU-TV 2, said of the initiative to ban pot sales, “There is no legitimate reason to squash new opportunities for small businesses and the economic stimulus that they can create — given our current financial state, one would think that the city would jump on the opportunity for small business economic growth.”

Around 50 people engaged in a heated debate over the issue before the ordinance to ban marijuana sales and production was called to a vote. In the end, the measure failed, with nine members voting against and two, mayoral hopeful Amy Demboski and Assembly member Paul Honeman, supporting the ban.

Now that commercial marijuana production and transactions have survived a ban attempt, the Assembly has switched gears and is working to create taxes and regulations for Anchorage’s newly-legalized recreational pot industry. KTUU-TV 2 is reporting that, on December 23, the Assembly’s committee on commercial pot regulations had its first meeting.

Back in September of this year, Ben Swann released a Truth in Media episode that challenges the federal government’s mixed messages on medical marijuana. Watch it in the video player, found below.

Midterm Elections Determine Marijuana Legalization in Several States

Among the issues decided by the ballots cast in Tuesday’s midterm elections, voters are determining the fate of marijuana legalization for recreational use in Alaska, Oregon, Washington D.C., and parts of Maine, and for medical use in Florida.

Yahoo News reported that ballot measures in Oregon and Alaska “would set up a network of regulated pot shops, similar to those already operating in Colorado and Washington State after twin landmark votes in 2012,” and that a measure in the District of Columbia “would allow possession but not retail sales.”

According to NBC News, “Most Americans support plans to legalize marijuana in theory,” and Tuesday’s election will show “a decision about the specific initiatives in Oregon and Alaska as a referendum on the success of those unfolding experiments in Colorado and Washington.

The Communication Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, Mason Tvert, said that his group, which is working to increase marijuana legalization among states in 2016, has high hopes for the midterm elections.

Win or lose, we expect to see more support and more dialogue about the issue than ever,” Tvert said.

According to Yahoo News, polls in Oregon “have shown a narrow majority favoring legal pot,” and polls in Alaska, “a Republican-leaning state with a libertarian streak,” have been inconsistent.

The Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Ethan Nadelmann, said that he is not worried about the outcome of the 2014 midterm elections, regarding marijuana legalization in Oregon.

If we lose in Oregon, it will shift the national frame a little bit. But it doesn’t change the strategy and it doesn’t change the tactics,” said Nadelmann. “A generation from now people will still step back and look at the prohibition of marijuana and say, what the heck was that about?”

Despite the narrow polls, Deborah Williams, the deputy treasurer of Alaska’s campaign for legalization, is confident.

We’re going to win,” said Williams. “It’s been a true grass roots campaign, pun intended, a true bipartisan, door to door effort, and our own polls show us 10 points ahead.

Yahoo News reported that the measure D.C., which would “allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis and grow up to six plants,” has been favored by a two-to-one margin.

Maine is following Washington D.C. in adding semi-legalization to the ballot. According to the Sun Herald, voters in the cities of South Portland and Lewiston “will vote on ballot initiatives that would legalize possession of marijuana.”

Tuesday’s elections will also determine whether Florida becomes the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana.

TIME reported that the campaign for legalization of medical marijuana “has drawn millions from big spenders on the left and right,” and has been “an issue splitting the gubernatorial candidates in a very close race.”

According to NBC News, although marijuana remains illegal under federal law, advocates argue that legalization is a “common sense policy,” due to the fact that it would “raise tax revenue, allow law enforcement to chase more serious crime, and undercut Mexico’s violent drug cartels.

Live coverage of the Elections will be provided on the homepage of Benswann.com, beginning at 4:00 pm edt.

Hospital Takes Custody Of Parents’ Son, Deny Them The Right To Visit Him



Last week, we exposed the Boston Children’s Hospital for taking custody of multiple children against parents’ will. A new case in Alaska reveals that Boston Children’s is not the only hospital using force to place individuals in state custody.

27-year-old Bret Bohn’s parents took him to an Anchorage hospital, Providence Medical Center, in October for severe insomnia he suffered after the removal of overgrowths in his nose. Bret was prescribed medication and sent home but his condition got worse. His health subsequently deteriorated so dramatically, that the 27-year-old was not able to care for himself or make his own medical decisions.  That is when Bret’s parents took him back to the hospital.

Bret’s mother, Lorraine Bohn, believes the medication doctors prescribed to her son made his condition worse. Lorraine requested a second opinion and a change in medical plan.

That’s when the state stepped in and a custody battle broke out. The judge ruled in favor of the state — Bret is now in the custody of Adult Protective Services, and his parents were stripped of the right to visit him in the hospital. Lorraine said the family has been living in a “nightmare.”


She said, “I hurt — I cry every day and every night. It’s a nightmare. It’s a nightmare that this even could be happening. I’m heartbroken, very heartbroken… You know, I can’t help but to blame myself.”

Barbara Dick, a spokeswoman of Adult Protective Services, defended the Anchorage hospital. She said, “We can’t just come in and take away somebody’s right and say, ‘That’s it.’ We have to take it to court and we have our state attorneys with us and we have to have the evidence to support that.”

According to officials at Providence Medical Center, who would not comment on this specific case, doctors are required to report abuse and neglect to the state. Child or Adult Protective Services then steps in.

We will keep you up-to-date on Bret’s situation as news breaks.

Follow Kristin on Facebook and Twitter.

Two States Move To Nullify Hemp: One Moves For Marijuana

Tennessee and South Carolina are both moving this legislative season to nullify the federal ban on hemp.

Last month South Carolina introduced SB0839, which would effectively nullify the federal ban on hemp. The bill would “provide that it is lawful to grow industrial hemp in this state; to clarify that industrial hemp is excluded from the definition of marijuana; to prohibit growing industrial hemp and marijuana on the same property or otherwise growing marijuana in close proximity to industrial hemp to disguise the marijuana growth; and to define necessary terms.”

South Carolina’s proposed law simply ignores the federal ban on industrial hemp, which falls under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970.

The Tennessee state legislature began talks last Summer about introducing a hemp nullification bill. That bill has now been filed in the general assembly. State Rep. Jeremy Fasion has filed the House bill, and Senator Frank Niceley is expected to file the Senate bill.

Alaska looks to become the third state to legalize marijuana. The state’s plan will closely mirror that of Colorado’s. A recent state ballot initiative received more than 45k signatures. The petition only needed 30k verified signatures to land a spot on the state ballot for this year.

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