Politics

Alaska Officially Legalizes Marijuana

| by Ethan Brown
Marijuana Plant.Marijuana Plant.

The ability to smoke, grow and possess marijuana became legal in Alaska on Feb. 24. Voters approved the measure in November 2014.

Alaska is a politically interesting state in that, while it generally supports Republican politics and is characterized as a “red state,” right-leaning libertarians and small-government citizens make up the majority of the population, fueling propositions like the legalization of recreational marijuana.

As in Colorado and Washington, two other states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, Alaska restricts who can use the drug and where it can be used, among other legalities.

The law states that only those over 21 can buy marijuana for personal consumption.

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Citizens are only allowed to carry up to 1 ounce of marijuana with them, and only grow up to 4 ounces in their homes or workplaces. The law is also strict about smoking in public places, such as parks, where it is forbidden, as is driving while high. Getting caught smoking in public comes with a $100 fine.

Unlike Colorado, which allows for marijuana to be sold and taxed, Alaska has not implemented that part of the legislation yet and it will not be completed until sometime next year.

Some native Alaskans were skeptical about the legalization, stating their belief that marijuana is a gateway drug and will lead to other problems, like domestic violence and alcohol abuse.

“When they start depending on smoking marijuana, I don’t know how far they’d go to get the funds they need to support it, to support themselves,” said Councilman Edward Nick, who represents the village of Manokotak.

Proponents of the legislation have already stated that communities like Manokotak will be able to decide on their own if they choose to implement the law. 

Supporters of the legislation plan on celebrating their victory. Charlo Greene, CEO of the Alaska Cannabis Club, plans on giving away marijuana to “club members.”  Greene is not known for her role as CEO as much as she is for her former job, a local news reporter for a station in Alaska. In that job, she abruptly quit live on air, cursed in her farewell address, and left the studio in the middle of the broadcast.

Sources: Associated Press, Fox News, CNN, The Alaska State LegislaturePhoto Credit: Brett LevinFlickr Creative Commons