With Colorado and Washington showing the nation how legalization of marijuana works, activists in other states are pushing to be next to end pot prohibition. Just a few weeks ago, supporters of a ballot initiative in Alaska submitted 45,000 signatures to the Lieutenant Governor in an effort to see legalization on the 2014 ballot. The signatures have yet to be verified, but if at least 30,000 pass, voters in Alaska could push the measure through come November.
“Voters around the country are fed up with our failed prohibition policies,” said Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project. “Alaska is poised to be the next state to regulate marijuana like alcohol, and it won’t be long before more states follow.”
Last year, a poll found more than half (54%) of Alaska voters in favor of legalization. More than likely, that number has climbed with attitudes about marijuana changing across the nation.
“Marijuana prohibition has been just as big a failure as alcohol prohibition,” said Alaska Department of Corrections Deputy Commissioner Bill Parker, according to AlterNet. “We are confident that voters will agree it is time for a more sensible approach that honors the ideals that unite us as Alaskans; protecting personal freedoms and a commitment to personal responsibility.”
If passed, adults 21 and over in the northernmost state would be allowed to possess a limited amount of pot. It would also set up a regulatory system similar to the system that regulates alcohol.
“Regulating marijuana in Alaska will allow law enforcement officials to focus on violent and otherwise harmful crimes instead of adults who are simply choosing to use a substance objectively less harmful than alcohol,” explained Parker.
As the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana’s website explains, legalizing pot and regulating would take it out of the black market and into the hands of responsible business owners. Also, it would provide the state with new tax revenue and jobs. In Colorado, recreational pot shops grossed over $1 million in their first day of operations.
The prohibition of marijuana has served to do little but criminalize a healing plant and those simply asking for basic rights. Breaking down the stigma of marijuana and allowing adults to choose it as their medicine or recreation will take time, but we are well on our way.