Finally, in another kick to the chin of the United States’ decades-long war on drugs, Alaska has joined Oregon and Washington, D.C. and legalized recreational marijuana. By making this move, Alaska has became the fourth state in the nation that has legalized recreational marijuana for adult use – Washington state and Colorado did their part when they legalized recreational cannabis in 2012.
It was a long and unique fight
Alaska has had a long history of flirting with recreational or medicinal use of cannabis. One could argue that the state has taken an exotic approach when, in 1975, the Alaskan Supreme court ruled in favor of people and decided that it is perfectly fine to posses and consume medical marijuana in their homes. The court found the people’s homes to be somewhat sacred when faced to the Governments interference of what people can and can’t do in privacy of their homes, as long as they are not hurting anybody – or themselves. However, what the Court failed to address is the question of where should people get that marijuana they are allowed to use in their homes? Today, that question has finally found an answer, not just for medical marijuana users, but also for those who enjoy it recreationally. As we know, medical marijuana was already legal in Alaska, however, now that the 52 percent of voters favored the Ballot Measure 2, Alaska has legalized recreational use of marijuana, which includes possession, use and sale of the drug.
The “Yes” campaign
What now seems as an easy win was actually the initiative that was years in the making. Voters from Alaska have been deciding on the fate of similar measures in 2000 and in 2004. Each new ballot has seen a raise in the percentage of voters in favor of the measure, starting with 40.9 percent of the vote that took the Measure 5 in 2000 and 44 percent voting in favor of the Measure 2 in the year 2004. Earlier this year, polls were showing support for the new measure at over 50 percent, but in weeks leading up to the election, the support appeared to have declined, making it impossible to guess which side would win. The “Yes” campaign was on the mission to get the message of all the failures of the marijuana prohibition across the state. Their strongest arguments pointed out the number of people in the state already using marijuana and the positive outcome of the legalization in terms of elimination of the black market and state being able to regulate and tax the substance already in use.
Marijuana control board
As far as regulations are concerned, adults age 21 and older are now allowed to posses up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants (with no more than three being mature) for personal use. Sales and possession of devices used for smoking and storing marijuana have also been legalized with this measure. After the measure has become the law, the state will create a “marijuana control board” – the group that will have to, within 9 months, come up with a set of regulations that will deal with the operations of marijuana businesses.