Alaska voters will decide this summer
whether America's Last Frontier will become the third U.S. state to
legalize the sale and recreational use of marijuana for adults under
a proposal that officially qualified on Wednesday for a statewide
Alaska Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell formally
certified that a petition campaign for the measure had gathered more
than 36,000 valid signatures from registered voters, nearly 6,000
more than legally required to qualify.
The marijuana initiative, and a separate measure to raise the
state's minimum wage by $2 an hour to $9.75 by January 2016, will be
placed on the state's primary election ballot on August 17.
Passage of the marijuana initiative would permit adults 21 and older
to possess up to one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana for private
personal use and to grow as many as six cannabis plants for their
It also charts a course for state-regulated commercial sales of pot
in a framework similar to systems established by Colorado and
Washington state after voters in those states became the first to
legalize recreational marijuana in 2012.
Colorado and Washington's marijuana sales are likewise patterned
after the system adopted by many states for alcohol sales.
Under the Alaska measure, the state would collect a tax of $50 per
ounce of marijuana at the wholesale level.
The push to legalize recreational pot use in Alaska, which is among
20 states that already allow medical marijuana, is part of a broader
state-by-state effort to end prohibition of the drug, which remains
classified as an illegal narcotic under federal law.
Activists in Oregon also are gathering signatures to put a
legalization measure on the 2014 ballot in that state.
"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 momentum on that," said campaign spokesman Taylor Bickford.
He said efforts at prohibition have failed, and the signatures
collected by the pro-marijuana campaign reflect a call for a more
"There is more public dialogue about marijuana taking place than
ever before," said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Denver-based
Marijuana Policy Project. "It won't be long before we see similar
steps being taken in other states."
(Reporting by Steve Quinn; Editing by
Steve Gorman and Ken Wills)