The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana, a cannabis activist group, delivered a petition with over 45,000 signatures to Alaska’s Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell on Wednesday, according to a recent Huffington Post story. If sufficient in number, the signatures will bring the issue to ballot in August, giving the state’s residents the chance to vote on legalizing the drug.
A 2013 Public Policy Polling survey found that 54% of Alaskan voters support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, suggesting that the ballot measure could succeed. Under the proposal, marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, and infused-product manufacturers would be permitted to operate within the state while a $50 per ounce tax would be levied.
“Voters around the country are fed up with our failed prohibition policies,” Mason Tvert of the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project said in a statement appearing in a recent Time story. “Alaska is poised to be the next state to regulate marijuana like alcohol, and it won’t be long before more states follow.”
Alaska’s Supreme Court ruled in 1975 that banning home use and possession of small amounts of marijuana violated a constitutional right to privacy, although the law did not mention a specific amount that could be possessed. In 1982, the Alaska Legislature determined that less than four ounces was fine unless there was evidence of sales or distribution – an amount that was later reduced to just one ounce. And in 2006, a new law was passed re-criminalizing any amount of pot at home.
Colorado and Washington voters opted to fully legalize marijuana in November of 2012. And in January, Colorado became the first state to allow the production and sale of recreational marijuana. Activists plan to push the marijuana legalization agenda in other states, like Arizona and California, in 2016 when higher turnout for a Presidential election could help the cause.