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Legalized marijuana debate at Bear Tooth on Thursday night

  • Author: Alaska News
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published October 7, 2014


Alaska voters will decide in the Nov. 4 election whether recreational use of marijuana should be legalized and regulated.

What makes the most sense for Alaska? Come to the Bear Tooth Theatrepub in Anchorage on Thursday, Oct. 23, as supporters on each side make their case in a debate co-sponsored by the UAA Seawolf Debate Program and Alaska Dispatch News.

Nearly two dozen states have laws permitting the use of marijuana, with most of those, including Alaska, allowing pot for medical use. Two states - Washington and Colorado - have gone a step further and legalized recreational use.

In some ways, it's no surprise Alaska would be next to consider legalization. Alaskans are known for their live-and-let-live attitudes. And the state Supreme Court has ruled that small amounts of marijuana are permitted in the home under the privacy provision of the state constitution. The ballot measure would allow the regulated sale of marijuana with taxes. Yet Alaska has long been plagued with a litany of alcohol and drug-fueled social ills and there are concerns that legalization will make those worse.

Join us for an in-depth discussion of the issue, or watch the live stream here. The debate runs 5:30-7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are available at the Bear Tooth box office and online. Proceeds benefit the Seawolf Debate Program. Check for debate updates on Facebook.

The Motion: “Alaskans should vote to legalize the production, sale and use of marijuana.”

The Pro Side: Taylor Bickford and Bruce Schulte

The Con Side: Deborah Williams and Kristina Woolston

Debater Bios

Taylor Bickford is a lifelong Alaskan. He was born in Juneau, and currently lives in Anchorage with his wife and daughter, Eden. He is the Director of Alaska Operations for Strategies 360, a national communications firm, and serves as a spokesperson for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. He is a graduate of West High School in Anchorage, and received his degree in political science and philosophy from West Virginia University.

Bruce Schulte is a small-business owner and Commercial Pilot. Trained in Architecture, he left that field and relocated to Alaska in 1996 to fly in the Last Frontier. As a life-long Republican, Bruce believes that individuals should have the right to conduct their lives free of Government interference, as long as they do not adversely affect their fellow Alaskans.

Deborah Williams, a resident of Alaska for over 35 years, has served as the Executive Director of the Alaska Lung Association, the Alaska Consumer Advocacy Project, and the Alaska Democratic Party. Because of her strong commitment to public health, youth, and education issues in Alaska, Deborah has been a member of the Municipal Health Commission, served as the Director of the Anchorage Youth Development Coalition, tutored math at Central Middle School, and participated on the Leadership Team of the 90% by 2020 Education Partnership. Active in numerous efforts to help our community, Deborah has received many awards including the YWCA Woman on Achievement Award and the Anchorage Club Rotarian of the Year award. Deborah's college degree was in Biology and Economics and she practiced law in Alaska for many years, while authoring many articles, including a law review article on Alaska initiative law.

Kristina Woolston was raised in the southwest village of Naknek where she grew up commercial fishing with her family. Kristina went on to graduate from Dartmouth College and has enjoyed a career in advocacy and economic development, with a focus on opportunities in rural Alaska communities. She is the Vice President of Government Relations for Chenega Corporation, an Alaska Native Village Corporation. She had been recognized as an Alaska Top 40 Under 40, and a national Native American Top 40 Under 40. Kristina and her husband Tim are proud to own a small business and partial ownership of a family restaurant in Alaska. Kristina and Tim have two young children, and Tim has two daughters 16 and 20.