[JURIST] Alaska’s voter initiative legalizing marijuana use takes effect Tuesday, making it the third state, along with Colorado and Washington, to legalize recreational marijuana. The ballot[text], which was approved by voters in November, allows adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and up to six plants. However, it is still illegal to sell marijuana in the state. Alaska Governor Bill Walker filed legislation [Alaska Public Media report] on Monday to create a marijuana control board to handle the regulation and licensing of marijuana retailers. As of now, it is legal to give or barter for marijuana, but not to sell it. Under the ballot measure’s implementation timeline, marijuana retailers are not expected to have licenses until 2016. Smoking marijuana in public is also banned, and state police officers have said [AP report] they plan to strictly enforce the ban with fines of up to $100.
The legal use and sale of marijuana [JURIST backgrounder] for both medical and recreational purposes has become a major political issue in the US with a number of states contemplating various legalization initiatives. In December Oklahoma and Nebraska filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against neighboring Colorado over the new marijuana market. In November voters in Alaska, Oregon and Washington, DC, voted [JURIST report] to legalize recreational marijuana. In September the Pennsylvania State Senate approved [JURIST Report] legislation that would legalize several forms of medical marijuana. In July Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed [JURIST report] legislation that will allow adults and children suffering from seizures access to medical marijuana. In April the Maryland House of Representatives passed a bill [JURIST report] that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.