Alaska Allows Recreational Consumption of Marijuana

  • This past Tuesday a law allowing the use of cannabis took effect in Alaska, which became the third US state with similar legislation, in the wake of Colorado and Washington.

Following Colorado and Washington, this past Tuesday Alaska became the third region of the United States where recreational use of marijuana is legal, after a law that was passed last November went into effect. The initiative was supported by Republicans in local governments and by other citizens who defended the privacy rights provided for in the Constitution of Alaska. A similar law was passed in Oregon, slated to take effect next July.

"It is going to keep a lot of people from being arrested for nonviolent crimes," explained Dean Smith, a consumer with friends in jail for crimes related to marijuana consumption, quoted by the Associated Press. Charlo Greene, executive director of the Alaska Cannabis Club, is also celebrating: the new law will make it possible to create a retail sales network in Alaska; so Green can now open her business in the centre of Anchorage, the state's most important city.

It will, however, continue to be illegal to smoke marijuana in public in Alaska. Precisely for this reason, Anchorage police are already poised to issue fines of 100 dollars (about 88 euros) to those who decide to smoke in public starting on Tuesday. Police Chief Mark Mew has indicated that his agents will strictly enforce the prohibition against smoking in public, and has even warned citizens not to smoke on their porches. In the suburb of North Pole, on the other hand, the authorities have indicated that people will be able to smoke outdoors on private property so long as they do not bother their neighbours.

The recreational consumption of marijuana is legal behind closed doors –a controversial aspect because it has not been made entirely clear how "public" consumption is to defined. Those that must rule on this point are the members of the government agency also charged with regulating alcohol, which plans to meet to devise an emergency strategy.

Thus, some supporters of the initiative have asked cannabis lovers to lie low and not do anything that could upset their fellow citizens, as they are living through a time of great social change. The defenders of the initiative have also promised local communities that they will continue to have control at the local level under some circumstances, though clear terms have not been established on when the new law is not applicable.

Alaska had already been one of the first states to legalize the use of medicinal cannabis, back in 1998, just two years after the first state to approve this measure: California. Beginning on Tuesday its residents will also be able to enjoy their marijuana without having to explain their motives.


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