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Marijuana Legalization Officially Makes Alaska Ballot

Alaska residents will decide Aug. 19 if “The Last Frontier” will be the third U.S. jurisdiction to legalize marijuana and regulate its sale.

The state’s lieutenant governor, Mead Treadwell, confirmed Wednesday that a pro-pot initiative effort cleared the legal requirements and ordered election officials to put legalization before voters.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska submitted 45,000 signatures Jan. 8 for the ballot measure, about 36,000 of which were validated by the state. Slightly more than 30,000 signatures were required.

“A bipartisan tidal wave of public support for regulating marijuana like alcohol in Alaska has pushed this issue onto the ballot, and we will be running an aggressive campaign designed to build on that momentum,” campaign spokesman Taylor Bickford said in a statement.

Adults over age 21 would be allowed to posses up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow six plants at home if the initiative is approved by voters.

Stores selling recreational marijuana would be licensed by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board. The legislature would be given the option of creating a Marijuana Control Board.

A quirk in state law requires the measure to appear on the August ballot alongside the primary elections of political parties.

A poll released Feb. 5 by Public Policy Polling found 55 percent support and 39 percent opposition to legalization among Alaskans. A March 2013 poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found 60 percent support.

For years, Alaska was the only state where it was legal to possess marijuana, following a 1975 Alaska Supreme Court decision allowing adults over age 18 to possess 4 ounces of pot and grow 24 plants at home.

By Steven Nelson
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