Cannabis users in Alaska are smoking, growing and possessing the drug. As of today, adult Alaskans can not only keep and use pot, they can transport, grow it and give it away. A second phase that will create a regulated and taxed marijuana market is being created, but won’t start until 2016 at the earliest. Thanks to a voter initiative passed in November, Alaska is now the third state to legalize recreational marijuana.
But according to an article in Yahoo, there are still some major issues that need to be handled. After the initiative passed last year, the groups that helped pass it “left many of the details to lawmakers and regulators to sort out.” There’s also an issue with Alaska’s Native leaders, who “worry that legalization will bring new temptations to communities already confronting high rates of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and suicide.” Backers of the initiative backers have promised Native leaders that communities could still have local control under certain conditions. Alaska law gives every community the option to regulate alcohol locally. But as the article states, the initiative didn’t provide “clear opt-out language for tribal councils and other smaller communities, forcing each one to figure out how to proceed.”
Another problem: the initiative also bans smoking in public, but didn’t define what that means. Lawmakers left the question to the alcohol regulatory board and they planned on meeting early today to discuss an emergency response.
In December, officials in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, failed to ban a new commercial marijuana industry. Even though the ban wasn’t allowed to proceed, the city’s Police Chief has said that his officers will be enforcing the public smoking ban and he has also warned people against smoking on their porches if they live next to a park. Possession is no longer a crime under state law, but enjoying pot in public can bring a $100 fine.