Supporters of an initiative that would create a legal market for marijuana in the state are at the beginning of a long campaign to get more than 30,000 signatures and allow Alaskan voters to decide next year on marijuana legalization. Petitioners began collecting signatures across Alaska about a week ago for a law regulating the sale and consumption of marijuana for recreational use.
Officials say it will take 30,169 signatures from at least 30 out of the 40 districts around the state to put the initiative on the ballot in August 2014.
Petitioners say they reach an average of 300 signatures a day and hope to meet the minimum required by December. The official deadline is set for January 15th, the first day of the 2013 legislative session. While petitioners believe they will be able to get the number of signatures needed, the debate surrounding the controversy continues.
“If it’s bad for you, it’s bad for you; it doesn’t make sense to legalize it because everyone’s doing it,” says Daniel Francis in opposition to the proposition.
For people like Ellen Bechtel, however, the proposition represents the opportunity for the public’s voice to be heard. “I am going to support anything that goes on the ballot because it will allow for a choice to be made,” says Bechtel.
Colorado and Washington remain in legal limbo, since both states voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012, however trafficking in marijuana is still a federal crime. Petitioners say Alaska could be next in line.
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