ALASKA MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION TAKES EFFECT TUESDAY
Commercial Regulation Development Underway
Law Enforcement Anticipates Public Safety Improvements
Last November, Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2, a law to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults, passed with 52% of the vote. When the measure takes effect on Tuesday this week, people age 21 and older will legally be able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate no more than six plants at home, though commercial sales will have to wait until regulations have been established – probably spring or summer of 2016. Colorado, Oregon and Washington have also legalized marijuana, and medical marijuana is permitted in 23 states and Washington D.C.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals opposed to the drug war, campaigned for Measure 2 by meeting with communities and the media to discuss the public safety benefits of marijuana regulation.
“We anxiously await the same public safety improvements from Alaska that we have already seen in Colorado and Washington,” said Maj. Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of LEAP. “Cops will spend more time going after dangerous criminals and protecting communities, and parents can rest assured that their local marijuana retailer is barred from selling to their children.”
Tuesday also marks the first day of drafting the manufacturing and sales regulations. The timeline states that regulations should be completed by November 2015, business applications should open in February 2016, and licenses should be issued by May of the same year. Some regulators are concerned the timeline is too short, and advocate for a later deadline to ensure the best possible regulatory model.
The state’s judiciary committee recently stalled SB 30, a bill that initially concerned legalization advocates due to ambiguity surrounding its ability to supersede Measure 2. The committee has ordered a replacement bill, which may provide clarity and ensure that Measure 2 and the will of Alaska’s voters are respected. Other pending state legislation relating to Measure 2 include SB 8, which would regulate the production of industrial hemp.
LEAP is committed to ending decades of failed policy that have fueled dangerous underground markets and gang violence, fostered corruption and racism, and largely ignored the public health crisis of addiction, all while spending billions of dollars diverting the penal system’s attention away from more important violent crimes.