Alaska on Tuesday became the third U.S. state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but organizers don’t expect any public celebrations since it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public.
In the state’s largest city, Anchorage police officers are ready to start handing out $100 fines to make sure taking a toke remains something to be done behind closed doors.
Placing Alaska in the same category as Washington state and Colorado with legal marijuana was the goal of a coalition including libertarians, rugged individualists and small-government Republicans who prize the privacy rights enshrined in the Alaska state constitution.
When they voted 53-47 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.
That has left confusion on many matters.
There’s a surprise, eh?…
That’s left different communities across the state to adopt different standards of what smoking in public means to them. In Anchorage, officials tried and failed in December to ban a new commercial marijuana industry. But Police Chief Mark Mew said his officers will be strictly enforcing the public smoking ban. He even warned people against smoking on their porches if they live next to a park.
But far to the north, in North Pole, smoking outdoors on private property will be OK as long as it doesn’t create a nuisance, officials there said…
In some respects, the confusion continues a four-decade reality for Alaskans and their relationship with marijuana.
Alaska has been burdened sufficiently with conservatives, religious nutballs and rightwing libertarians to have had any number of changes over the last four decades about what to do over getting a little mellow, being a drunk, how and where to have sex. This is just part of the whole package.
Fortunately, the Leftish flavor of libertarianism plus progressive Dems and Independents seems to be prevailing this week.
A new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that drivers who use marijuana are at a significantly lower risk for a crash than drivers who use alcohol. And after adjusting for age, gender, race and alcohol use, drivers who tested positive for marijuana were no more likely to crash than who had not used any drugs or alcohol prior to driving.
So much for coppers and politicians who were certain easing laws on ganja were going to kill us all.
The chart above tells the story. For marijuana, and for a number of other legal and illegal drugs including antidepressants, painkillers, stimulants and the like, there is no statistically significant change in the risk of a crash associated with using that drug prior to driving. But overall alcohol use, measured at a blood alcohol concentration threshold of 0.05 or above, increases your odds of a wreck nearly seven-fold.
The study’s findings underscore an important point: that the measurable presence of THC (marijuana’s primary active ingredient) in a person’s system doesn’t correlate with impairment in the same way that blood alcohol concentration does. The NHTSA doesn’t mince words: “At the current time, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with a specific degree of driver impairment…”
What we do need, however, are better roadside mechanisms for detecting marijuana-related impairment. Several companies are developing pot breathalyzers for this purpose.
We also need a lot more research into the effects of marijuana use on driving ability, particularly to get a better sense of how pot’s effect on driving diminishes in the hours after using. But this kind of research remains incredibly difficult to do, primarily because the federal government still classifies weed as a Schedule 1 substance, as dangerous as heroin.
Reinforcing for the umpteenth time that our government really doesn’t give a crap about accuracy, evidence-based conclusions or the truth about much that’s important.
Think about that while everyone from Congressional hacks to the White House to assorted media sycophants, right-wing and barely-left-wing do their level best to encourage our participation in jolly wars in Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Venezuela, Cuba, etc..
And, yes, let’s keep on picking up the tab for 750+ military bases around the world. Hey, we’re the richest country in the world, right? We can afford it.
Lots of ordinary citizens know the War on Terror, the War on Drugs – are just as [un]necessary as ever.
Over the last nine months, Vox writing fellow German Lopez found himself covering two major policy changes in the U.S.: the rapid growth in support of same-sex marriage across the country, and the smaller, but gaining-in-momentum movement to legalize marijuana. German found inspiration to bring the two threads together after seeing politics writer Phil Bump compare the two policies at the Washington Post. With the visuals team, German created a chart comparing medical marijuana laws, full marijuana legalization, and same-sex marriage rights around the country. The end result: a playful chart that shows where you can legally get high at a same-sex wedding. It’s simple, it’s fun, and, yet, it delivers so much information about the state of affairs in the U.S. right now.
This short piece is a VOX specialty. It illustrates the growth and usefulness – therefore importance if you find thinking useful – of this new information source.
I’ve grown to accept their decision to omit reader comments. Of course, I qualify for Barry Ritholtz’s infamous acronym – if you don’t like the rules, GYOB. Get your own blog.
Though I have functioned as contributing editor at blogs with traffic as high as 5 million visitors per week, ideas and issues I consider important always start out here at my personal blog.
Opening the door for what could be a lucrative and controversial new industry on some Native American reservations, the Justice Department on Thursday will tell U.S. attorneys to not prevent tribes from growing or selling marijuana on the sovereign lands, even in states that ban the practice.
The new guidance, released in a memorandum, will be implemented on a case-by-case basis and tribes must still follow federal guidelines, said Timothy Purdon, the U.S. attorney for North Dakota and the chairman of the Attorney General’s Subcommittee on Native American Issues…
The policy comes on the heels of the 2013 Justice Department decision to stop most federal marijuana prosecutions in states that have legalized the possession or sale of pot. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia have all moved to legalize the drug, though the D.C. law may be scaled back by Congress.
Some tribes see marijuana sales as a potential source of revenue, similar to cigarette sales and casino gambling, which have brought a financial boon to reservations across the country. Others, including the Yakama Reservation in Washington state, remain strongly opposed to the sale or use of marijuana on their lands…
Even though Indian nations are recognized as sovereign, Anglo governments, white folks in general have such a long history of telling First Nation folks how to run their lives – there is no doubt that states still backwards enough to have restrictive laws on marijuana will try to continue that restriction on crops and sales on tribal lands.
From my perspective in a so-called tricultural state like New Mexico? Hey, it serves more good than selling fireworks. I have neighbors who make the short trek to the nearest Pueblo on the weekend to fill-up their pickup on cheaper gasoline. I imagine there will be folks doing the same in some states to stockup on weed.
Just watch out for The Man on the way home.
As marijuana revenues trickle into the state, slow to meet projections, a few Colorado school districts are among the first to see some impact from the state’s new funds.
The state Department of Education’s program to fund capital projects — known as Building Excellent Schools Today, or BEST, grants — had received more than $1.1 million from marijuana taxes in May when it made the annual award recommendations.
The state also is readying another $2.5 million from pot taxes so interested schools can hire health professionals.
The additional capital project money has been welcomed as the state fund for the BEST grants has been declining and the program reached a cap for the financed grants it could issue through bonds…
The marijuana excise tax — which is 15 percent on unprocessed recreational pot sales on its first sale – — netted about $3 million from January through June 30. The education department receives the funds monthly and will dole out the awards recommendations every May.
Next year, officials estimate the pot contribution to the BEST grants will be about $10 million. But some school officials say there’s a misconception about where the pot money is going.
“I feel like the word on the streets is marijuana funding is going to schools, but certainly it’s not going to schools for operating costs,” said Ryan Elarton, director of business services for the Pueblo district. “And not every district gets it.”
Besides the new marijuana funds, BEST grants have been funded by sources including money from the state land trust and spillover from Powerball profits after funding the Great Outdoors Colorado fund…
From other marijuana revenue appropriated by the legislature, $2.5 million has been set aside to increase the presence of health professionals in schools.
Schools that apply for those grants and win could have that money by January.
It’s hilarious that schools may get back some of the necessities cut by conservative politicians — and they’ll be getting it from profits generated by legal ganja.
The sad part remains that folks trapped in the two-party belief system can’t get any results from simply going to the polls on election day. Frankly, issues like school safety, healthcare for the student population, reasonable curricula dedicated to learning and all that entails — are a natural for independent political organizing. Yes, just like legalizing marijuana.
Then, you’re not required to shove a natural local response to problems into a cookie cutter mold designed by seventeen lobbyists employed by a Congressional action committee.
On November 4, several states radically altered their approaches to a drug once known for Reefer Madness. In Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, DC, voters approved marijuana legalization measures. But in Florida, a medical marijuana amendment fell short of the 60 percent approval it needed to pass under state law. Here’s a breakdown of each state’s initiative, the latest results, and how the opposing campaigns pushed their messages to voters…
Yes, I live in a major stoner state
Chickenshit politicians were afraid to advocate legalization; so, grassroots campaigns got referendums on the ballot in Bernalillo County and Santa Fe County. They cover the majority of the state’s population – and the city of Santa Fe has already decriminalized weed. But the county commissions wanted a vote to cover their buns before passing new regulations.
Bernalillo County voted 60/40 and Santa Fe County voted 73/27 to decriminalize pot possession. Hopefully, this will inject a bit of spinal stiffness into our elected officials and appropriate regulations will be passed. The next step involves the state legislature and, yes, I expect nothing to be accomplished. But – there may be a legalization measure on the ballot in 2016 similar to those in modern states.
You can RTFA if you think you might see something new from the moral opposition.
A television reporter quit her job on live TV with a big four-letter flourish after revealing she owns a medical marijuana business and intends to press for legalization of recreational pot in Alaska.
After reporting on the Alaska Cannabis Club on Sunday night’s broadcast, KTVA’s Charlo Greene identified herself as the business’s owner.
“Everything you’ve heard is why I, the actual owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club, will be dedicating all my energy toward fighting for freedom and for fairness, which begins with legalizing marijuana here in Alaska,” she said during the late Sunday evening newscast. “And as for this job, well not that I have a choice, but fuck it, I quit.”
She then walked off camera.
KTVA News Director Bert Rudman apologized for blah, blah, blah…
Greene is the professional name used by Charlene Egbe. She told The Associated Press on Monday that she knew about a month ago that she would be leaving the way she did. No one else at the station knew anything about it, she said.
Alaska voters will decide in the November election whether to join Washington and Colorado in decriminalizing pot…
After voters approved the use of medical marijuana in 1998, the state of Alaska never set up dispensaries, forcing people to criminalize themselves to access pot…
Perish the thought that conservative politicians let democracy get in the way of maintaining reactionary policies.
And in the tradition of sophistry which rules much of American journalism, AP takes the time and space at the top and bottom of this article to track down dweebs opposing any science-based regulation of cannabis to give them equal coverage – or more.
Albuquerque resident David Ung didn’t forget his luggage, cell phone or plane ticket in a returned rental car Tuesday.
Instead, police say he forgot 139 pounds of “high grade” marijuana — packed in several black trash bags — in the trunk of a rental car he had returned to Hertz Rent a Car near the airport.
Aviation police officers told an Albuquerque Police Department officer that 40-year-old David Ung dropped off a car, but returned, saying he left a bag inside the vehicle.
By the time he returned, police had already found several black trash bags full of marijuana, packaged in 124 individual heat-sealed clear bags…
Ung was detained at the scene, and refused to talk to officers without an attorney…He was charged with possession of drugs with intent to distribute and booked into the county jail on $10,000 bail.
Been sampling the product, eh?
States that have legalized medical marijuana tend to experience an unexpected benefit — fewer overdose deaths from narcotic painkillers…
Access to medical marijuana is associated with 25 percent fewer prescription drug overdose deaths each year compared to states where medical pot is illegal, according to findings published Aug. 25 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
What’s more, states that pass medical marijuana laws see their overdose death rates decrease dramatically in the years immediately afterward…
The study authors believe that people suffering from chronic pain tend to rely on medical marijuana when they have that option, which reduces the risk of addiction and overdose that accompanies use of narcotic medications.
The study used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine the prescription painkiller overdose death rate for each state between 1999 and 2010, and then took into account whether and when each state had passed a medical marijuana law…
Critics are trying hard to come up with rationales that support continued reliance on the profitable trade in prescription painkillers – and don’t confront idjit ideology that says cannabis is the Antichrist.
Overdose deaths from prescription painkillers have skyrocketed over the past two decades, increasing 118 percent between 1999 and 2011, according to the CDC.
The agency estimates that every day 113 people die from drug overdoses in the United States, and another 6,700 land in the emergency room from an overdose…
States’ overdose death rates decline an average 20 percent in the first year following the passage of a medical marijuana law, the researchers found. By the second year, overdose death rates on average decline 25 percent, and as much as 33 percent by five years after legalization of medical pot.
Medical marijuana laws also are associated with a more dramatic decrease in overdose death rates than other means commonly used to tackle prescription drug abuse, the study noted.
There is no reason for Congressional opposition to medical marijuana other than it may cut down contributions from amoral corporations chartered to profit from pain and illness.
Creeps like Mitch McConnell and Erik Paulsen may as well take their contributions directly from the drug cartels instead of the painkiller producers. Cut out the middleman.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says she opposes efforts in Albuquerque and Santa Fe to reduce marijuana possession penalties.
Martinez said at an event in Bernalillo that marijuana possession is illegal under federal law and she believes that’s the way it should remain. She called current penalties appropriate.
The Santa Fe city clerk said Monday that petitioners seeking to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana garnered enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot…And Albuquerque city councilors voted Monday to ask voters whether they supported reduced penalties, although Mayor Richard Berry could veto the measure. [Count on it!]
Governor Susana’s statement – rooted in RNC ideology – the larger concern is that allowing marijuana initiatives to be placed on a ballot will result in a higher voter turnout primarily among younger people who might otherwise not vote – which has proven to reduce the prospects for Republican candidates being elected.