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Alaska marijuana initiative has enough signatures to qualify for ballot

Suzanna Caldwell
Sponsors of the Alaska Campaign to Regulate Marijuana turned in boxes of signatures on a petition in support of a ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana in the Last Frontier. Jan. 8, 2013. Loren Holmes photo

A ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana in Alaska has enough signatures to make its way to voters in August, and will move along for final certification.

According to the state Division of Elections, 31,000 of the 45,000 signatures from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska submitted to put the issue on the ballot have been verified, above the minimum 30,000 needed. Additionally, 32 statewide house districts had enough signatures to be able to put the initiative to voters in the August primary election. The Division of Elections requires a minimum number of signatures from at least 30 qualifying house districts.

"It appears voters will have the opportunity in August to replace the failed policies of marijuana prohibition with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol in Alaska," campaign spokesperson Taylor Bickford said in an email Tuesday morning.

There are still about 6,000 signatures to be counted before the election can officially be certified by the Division of Elections, according to Director Gail Fenumiai. In an email, Fenumiai said the number of qualifying signatures is expected to increase.

About 8,000 signatures have been rejected so far, mostly due to unregistered voters who signed the petition.

After the remaining signatures are verified, the initiative moves on to the office of Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell for final certification.

If passed by voters, the law would legalize and regulate the sale of marijuana for adults aged 21 years or older. Marijuana would be taxed at $50 per ounce. Where those funds would end up, whether in the state’s general fund or for a specific section of state government, is not laid out in the act, which is modeled largely on the marijuana law in Colorado, which went into effect at the beginning of this year.

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