Group seeking to get legal marijuana on ballot in Alaska this year

Jan. 8, 2014 at 10:30 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- A group pushing for Alaska to become the next state to legalize recreational marijuana submitted 46,000 signatures Wednesday to get the issue on the ballot.

If elections officials find the petitions submitted by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana have 30,000 valid signatures, voters would get to decide in the Aug. 14 primary, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The group turned the petitions in at the Anchorage office.

The campaign has been financed by the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington-based organization advocating for legalization. In Alaska, the campaign has establishment leadership, including Bill Parker, a former deputy commissioner in the state Department of Corrections, Tim Hinterberger, a biology professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and Mary Reff, a retired accountant in Alaska.

"It's not that the initiative would bring marijuana to Alaska," Parker said. "Marijuana is already in Alaska. It would legalize, regulate and tax it. It would treat it like alcohol."

Parker called the state's current laws "insane." He said marijuana possession has been decriminalized so Alaskans can keep it in their home legally but cannot acquire it without breaking the law, while people who use marijuana for medical purposes can acquire it but have no place to do so.

On Jan. 1, Colorado became the first place in the world to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana purchases. The Alaska initiative is modeled on the one that passed in Colorado in 2012.

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