It’s official, Alaska voters will soon decide whether or not to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in their state. The proposal officially qualified for a statewide ballot on Wednesday after thousands of signatures were verified and certified by Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell. On August 17, voters in the northernmost state will go to the polls for pot.
As Reuters reports, if voters approve the measure, it would make Alaska the third state to legalize recreational marijuana, coming after Colorado and Washington who approved recreational pot in later 2012.
The proposed initiative would allow adults ages 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use and to grow up to six plants for their own consumption.
In addition, the proposal “charts a course” for a system of state-regulated marijuana sales as we see in Colorado, where dispensaries made well over $1 million in just their first day of business.
“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 legalization campaign spokesman Taylor Bickford.
Marijuana users in the state aren’t the only ones who would benefit from the law. The state itself would collect a tax of $50 per ounce sold at the wholesale level.
The initiative stands a good chance if voters come to the polls as expected. The most recent survey among Alaskans found that 55 percent support legalization while only 39 percent opposed it.
“There is more public dialogue about marijuana taking place than ever before,” said Mason Tvert, of Denver-based Marijuana Policy Project. “It won’t be long before we see similar steps being taken in other states.”
It’s true, marijuana legislation is being proposed, discussed, and put before voters at a pace never seen before. As a whole, Americans are waking up to the fact that marijuana prohibition simply doesn’t work and that marijuana may not be as harmful as they’ve been led to believe.
The push towards legalization is backed by a growing body of research on the benefits of marijuana, and it’s many of these studies that have led states to legalize medicinal marijuana as a potential predecessor for recreational pot.
One by one we can expect to see states alter their current laws to make marijuana more widely available, and it looks like Alaska may be next in line.