On June 14, Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell certified a ballot initiative application that would put the question of whether to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol up to state voters. In order to appear on next year’s ballot, the initiative must receive 30,169 signatures from qualified voters.
The proposal would create state-regulated marijuana stores, cultivation facilities, and the option for Alaska’s legislature to create a Marijuana Control Board tasked with overseeing the industry. It would also allow adults to grow up to six marijuana plants.
Petition sponsor Tim Hinterberger stated that advocates hope to finish collecting signatures by January in order to get the petition on the primary ballot.
If the proposal passes, it would help to clear up Alaskans’ confusion over some of the nation’s most contradictory marijuana laws. In 1975, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that possession of less than four ounces in the home was protected from criminal sanctions by the state constitution’s right to privacy. However, in 2006, the legislature passed a bill criminalizing the possession of even small amounts of marijuana. Meanwhile, the state is one of 18 that allows patients to access medical marijuana.
Mason Tvert, a spokesman for MPP, is quoted in the Huffington Post as saying that this proposal is not a “blanket protection for marijuana possession… In order to have a system where individuals can go to the store, buy an ounce of marijuana, drive home, and enjoy it at home, it is necessary to make up to an ounce of marijuana entirely legal.”