Alaska Legalizes Marijuana

Alaska Legalizes Marijuana

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November 5, 2014

Alaska has had a torrid love affair with marijuana–decriminalizing it in 1975, then legalizing possession in 1982… but then attempting to re-criminalize it two times since. It approved the Medical Marijuana Act in 1998. Today, however, it's clear that Alaskans are, by and large, pro-marijuana legalization. State residents voted 52.14% (116,803 votes) to 47.85% (107,179 votes) to pass Measure 2, legalizing recreational marijuana use and the establishment of a regulated (taxable) commercial cannabis business. Alaska and Oregon–which passed its own legalization measure Tuesday–become the third and fourth states to legalize and regulate the sale of recreational marijuana, joining Colorado and Washington State.

With the passage of Measure 2, adults (ages 21 and over) can now legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants in their homes. (Like in other states that have legalized marijuana possession and sale, however, public consumption remains illegal and is subject to fines.) Commercial cannabis production and retail sales also are now legal across The Last Frontier, as is the production, sale and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. to pass Measure 2, legalizing recreational marijuana use and the establishment of a regulated (taxable) commercial cannabis business. Alaska and Oregon–which passed its own legalization measure Tuesday–become the third and fourth states to legalize and regulate the sale of recreational marijuana, joining Colorado and Washington State.

Regulations surrounding Alaska's measure are a bit less structured than other states that have traversed the legalization path. However, some clear guidelines have been set. Oversight of the regulated marijuana market will be assigned to Alaska's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, although the legislature would be able to create a Marijuana Control Board at any time.

Like Oregon's Measure 91, Alaska opted to tax based on amount, not on percentage of sale/price (as Washington State does). The Measure establishes an excise tax of $50 per ounce. This type of taxation ensures that tax windfalls don't fluctuate with marijuana prices.

Measure 2 also stipulates that municipalities would be able to ban sales (though not possession) within their borders, and local government could pass ordinances "governing the time, place, manner and number of marijuana establishment operations," as well as charge their own sets of fees.

Under the measure, application fees for a retail license have been set at $5,000. Inspection, labeling and display requirements would be similar to other states where pot is legal.

The measure includes language that says the rights of patients or caregivers under Alaska’s medical marijuana law will not be changed.