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Alaskans to vote on legalization of recreational marijuana

Wed., Feb. 5, 2014

Voters in Alaska this summer will have a third chance to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

The Alaska Division of Elections released data Tuesday showing that the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska has collected enough signatures to qualify for the Aug. 19 primary election ballot.

Medical marijuana use was approved by Alaska voters in 1998 by an 18-percentage-point margin. But two years later, voters rejected by the same margin a measure that would legalize pot for recreational use. In 2004, another legalization measure was defeated by 11 percentage points.

“Based on the numbers posted by the Division of Elections, Alaskans will have the chance to overturn the failed policy of prohibiting marijuana use,” said Taylor Bickford, a spokesman for the legalization campaign.

Alaskans are already allowed to possess as much as 4 ounces of marijuana for personal use within their homes, the result of a state Supreme Court ruling in 1975 citing the right to privacy. But there is no legal means to buy or distribute marijuana for recreational use in the state.

The latest ballot measure would allow anyone 21 or older to use marijuana. They could grow a limited amount themselves or buy marijuana from licensed retailers. Public consumption would be banned. And marijuana would be subject to an excise tax.

If the initiative is approved, Alaska would join Washington and Colorado in allowing recreational use.


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