Marijuana: Oregon and Alaska Could Be Next to Legalize Recreational Use

By Knickerbocker, Brad | The Christian Science Monitor, June 26, 2014 | Go to article overview

Marijuana: Oregon and Alaska Could Be Next to Legalize Recreational Use


Knickerbocker, Brad, The Christian Science Monitor


If marijuana advocates have their way, the number of states where recreational pot is legal could double this year.

On the November ballot in Oregon and Alaska are measures allowing the sale of recreational marijuana to adults. If those initiatives pass, the two states would join Colorado and Washington in legalizing cannabis.

Meanwhile, Florida voters will decide on a constitutional amendment legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. That would make it the 24th state, plus the District of Columbia, to legalize medical marijuana.

In Oregon Thursday, supporters of marijuana legalization turned in 145,000 signatures - far more than the 87,213 valid signatures of registered voters necessary to qualify as a ballot initiative.

"The Control, Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana and Industrial Hemp Act strictly regulates marijuana sales and possession," according to New Approach Oregon, the advocacy group that submitted signatures to the Oregon secretary of state. "It legalizes the use of marijuana by adults only and taxes marijuana and its products to generate money for education, public safety, drug treatment, and drug prevention."

Initiative Petition 53, as the measure is also known, would allow adults to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana and up to four plants. Sales would be subject to a flat tax of $35 per ounce for marijuana flowers, $10 per ounce of marijuana leaves, and $5 per immature cannabis plant.

A poll of Oregon voters earlier this month showed 51 percent support for making the personal use of marijuana legal with 41 percent opposed. Younger voters in this poll were much more likely to support marijuana legalization (70-to-22 percent), as were Democrats (65 percent) with just 28 percent support among Republicans.

In Alaska, a November ballot measure would legalize the adult possession of up to one ounce of cannabis as well as the cultivation of up to six plants (three flowering) for personal consumption, according to "The Daily Chronic," a newspaper produced by marijuana reform activists. It would also allow for the establishment of licensed, commercial cannabis production and retail sales of marijuana and marijuana-infused products to those over the age of 21.

Commercial production and retail sales of cannabis would be subject to taxation in Alaska, but no taxes would be imposed upon those who choose to engage in noncommercial activities - growing small quantities of marijuana for personal use or engaging in not- for-profit transfers of limited quantities of cannabis. Public consumption of cannabis would be subject to a civil fine.

Polls show a majority of Floridians support medical marijuana legalization, but constitutional amendments need a 60 percent majority in order to pass.

Still, a Quinnipiac University poll last month showed 88 percent support for allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes, if a doctor prescribes it. By a smaller 53-42 percent majority, Florida voters support allowing adults to legally possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, according to this poll. …

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