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Alaska's Marijuana Law Takes Effect: What You Need to Know

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on February 24, 2015 1:16 PM

Last November, voters in Alaska took to the polls to legalize recreational pot. Ballot Measure 2 went into effect today, allowing some state residents and visitors to legally own certain amounts and types of marijuana.

Alaska's marijuana laws are still catching up to front runners like Colorado and Washington state, so how is recreational weed regulated in The Last Frontier? Let's take a look at a few of the particulars.

Pot Possession

Alaska's new state marijuana law limits legal marijuana possession to adults 21 and older and to just 1 ounce of the drug. (Although that could be increased to 4 ounces under proposed legislation.)

State residents may also own up to six marijuana plants in their homes (and whatever additional marijuana is produced by those plants), but only three plants can be mature and flowering at any one time.

While Alaskans are free to own marijuana and transport it, pot consumption in public remains illegal. Violators of the public consumption ban can be fined up to $100.

The Rest of the Regulations

As for the laws regarding the shops and stores that plan to sell marijuana (and the state control board responsible for further rulemaking), those provisions remain to be written. The ballot initiative gives Alaska nine months from today to craft retail and commercial regulations for an industry expected to pump $8 million in taxes into the state treasury in the first year alone.

So while you are free to possess a little weed and toke up in the privacy of your own home in Alaska, you may want to hold off on your one-stop pot shop until the state legislature unmuddies those waters.

State of the Nation

Alaska joined Oregon and the District of Columbia in passing marijuana legalization measures last year, after Colorado and Washington state legalized recreational pot in 2012. According to industry insiders, an additional 10 states may legalize it by 2016, and 18 total states may allow legal adult marijuana use by 2020.

Despite this trend at the state level, marijuana remains a Schedule I narcotic and therefore criminalized under federal law. For the time being, federal law enforcement authorities have left in-state marijuana cases to the states, but they still have the power to prosecute interstate drug possession and trafficking charges.

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