Alaska has become the first conservative or GOP-leaning state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana consumption for recreational purposes. Amid growing support for legalizing use of marijuana in the state of Alaska from libertarians and industrialists alike, Alaska declared the decriminalization of controlled use of marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes.
The next state expected to follow Alaska in opening up of the laws to provide marijuana for recreational and medicinal but restricted use is Washington, D.C. The announcement is expected Thursday, February 26. As per a report regarding the statement by Mayor Muriel Bowser, District of Columbia, the mandatory lawful minimum age requirement for buying and possessing up to two ounces of marijuana will be 21 years. The recreational or medicinal use would be permitted only within private property. A transfer of up to one ounce of marijuana to another person would also be lawfully permitted.
However, there should not be a monetary exchange, and the recipient should be at least 21 years old. Growing of marijuana plants would also be allowed up to six plants. This would only be permissible for personal use. Everything else would be considered illegal whether it is any unauthorized sale of marijuana, driving under the influence, or any public consumption of marijuana.
In Alaska, it would be legally permissible to consume marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes. Possession and sharing of up to one ounce with people at least 21 years old would also be legal. The law in Alaska would be the same regarding growing, buying, selling, and soliciting. Even bartering would be considered against the law. The law regarding public consumption of marijuana in Alaska is being discussed. The regulations for retailers and licensing in Alaska are being worked out at the moment. Licensed stores selling marijuana legally in Alaska could be expected by 2016. Alaska is the twenty-fourth state in the U.S. to have legalized controlled consumption of marijuana. Consumption of marijuana is still illegal under federal law.
Skeptics have pointed out that exactly like the support for marijuana pouring in today, there was huge public support for cigarette smoking decades ago. The propaganda campaign run by the tobacco industry was on similar lines. The television commercials, the print ads, and the out-of-home advertising in the form of banners and posters were all targeted towards encouraging and inducing people to cigarette smoking. The television commercials run back then, went on to describe cigarette smoking to be beneficial for health, personality, and masculinity. Only decades later, after immense amount of research and putting up a huge fight against the big tobacco industry, did scientists publicly declare the harmful effects of cigarette smoking.
A counter-argument to the comparison with cigarette smoking is that marijuana is safer as it is herbal in nature. It does not include as many chemicals and carcinogens as the cigarettes. It has been around and is used worldwide for thousands of years. In countries like India, Nepal, and some other South-East Asian countries, marijuana is considered a holy and religious offering of the Hindu deity, Shiva. Such instances of marijuana being considered an offering of gods since ancient times can be traced across the world.
However, there are studies that are starting to show that marijuana is as addictive as any other narcotic. Also, studies have shown that it could cause delusions, brain damage, and alterations in mood. It remains to be seen how Alaska moves forward with this the law. States like Colorado, Washington St., and Oregon among others have already passed the legislation regarding decriminalization of marijuana consumption. Alaska could replicate these states as they have both posted a favorable trend in tax revenue collected from legalized sale of marijuana. This will also boost employment in Alaska.
By Ankur Sinha