Smoking, growing and possessing marijuana becomes legal in America’s wildest state Tuesday, thanks to a voter initiative aimed at clearing away 40 years of conflicting laws and court rulings.
Making Alaska the third state to legalize recreational marijuana was the goal of a coalition including libertarians, rugged individualists and small-government Republicans who prize the privacy rights enshrined in the state’s constitution.
But when they voted 52-48 percent last November to legalize marijuana use by adults in private places, they left many of the details to lawmakers and regulators to sort out.
Meanwhile, Alaska Native leaders worry that legalization will bring new temptations to communities already confronting high rates of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and suicide.
“When they start depending on smoking marijuana, I don’t know how far they’d go to get the funds they need to support it, to support themselves,” said Edward Nick, council member in Manokotak, a remote village of 400 that is predominantly Yup’ik Eskimo.
Both alcohol and drug use are prohibited in Nick’s village 350 miles southwest of Anchorage, even inside the privacy of villagers’ homes.
But Nick fears that the initiative, in combination with a 1975 state Supreme Court decision that legalized marijuana use inside homes — could open doors to drug abuse.
Initiative backers promised Native leaders that communities could still have local control under certain conditions. Alaska law gives every community the option to regulate alcohol locally. From northern Barrow to Klawock, 1,291 miles away in southeast Alaska, 108 communities impose local limits on alcohol, and 33 of them ban it altogether.Mopre at Source: http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/alaska-3rd-state-legal-marijuana-29172331