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Weed roundup: ABC board offers early insight into business licenses, rural Alaska reacts to marijuana legalization

  • Author: Suzanna Caldwell
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published November 10, 2014

It's been almost a week since Alaskans approved ballot measure 2 legalizing recreational marijuana in Alaska and no surprise: People are still talking about it. Here's a quick rundown of quick marijuana coverage happening in-state and nationally.

The Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board released a short Q&A Monday outlining some of the major questions associated with marijuana legalization. Most of the questions deal with people looking to get business licenses -- appropriate, given that the ABC board or the marijuana control board (if the legislature decides to create it) will be in charge of regulating businesses. The most interesting question addressed is whether the board is keeping a list of businesses or individuals looking to get marijuana business licenses. Short answer? It's not. The Q&A doesn't have answers to many of the questions, given the election hasn't even been certified yet. Expect that to happen by late November. From there, the initiative becomes law 90 days after that date. By mid-February, the board should be able to begin drafting legislation addressing business licenses and be able to better outline how businesses will move forward.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta was one of the few rural Alaska communities to oppose marijuana legalization. Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2 chairman Mike Williams expressed disappointment in the vote according to KYUK-radio. In an interview, Williams said villages should look at what they can do at the local and tribal levels to regulate the substance. The story also looks at whether or not marijuana could be transported down federal navigable waterways like the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers. Marijuana is still strictly illegal at the federal level and a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman told KYUK federal agents who encounter those in violation of the law will have the substance seized and or possiblly take individuals into custody.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported students in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District overwhelmingly approved marijuana legalization during the Kids Vote exercise last week. Over 3,600 students participated, with wildly contradictory results -- for example, students voted down the Bristol Bay Forever initiative, but approved U.S. House candidate Forrest Dunbar by over 400 votes. Reporter Weston Morrow found the marijuana vote the most interesting. Only 750 students received ballots with the marijuana initiative after there was controversy over whether or not to include the measure on the mock ballot. Still, the marijuana measure passed, 63 percent to 37 percent.

The FiveThirtyEight blog noted that with legalization in Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. 17.6 million Americans now live in states where marijuana is fully legal. In contrast, 141.8 million live in states where cannabis is complete illegal and fully criminalized.

In a look at local option laws, last week Gunnison, Colo. voters opted to allowed marijuana businesses in the community of about 5,800 people according to the New York Times. Gunnison had previously opted out of allowing marijuana dispensaries (a provision of Colorado's ballot initiative, similar to Alaska) while nearby Crested Butte, Colo. seemingly prospered with a few dispensaries in place. With the vote, the community will be able to tax and regulate recreational and medical marijuana sales.