Recreational use of marijuana becomes legal in Alaska

Legalisation movement spreads across northwest frontier of US

A view of Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. Photo: Joshua Corbett/The New York Times

A view of Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. Photo: Joshua Corbett/The New York Times

 

Smoking, growing and owning small amounts of marijuana became legal in Alaska yesterday as a growing decriminalisation movement reached the northwest frontier of the United States.

Alaska, which narrowly passed the measure in November, followed Colorado and Washington among states allowing recreational use, reflecting a rapidly shifting legal landscape for the drug.

It remains illegal under federal law.

In the District of Columbia, mayor Muriel Bowser said the US capital would go ahead with legalised possession of small amounts of marijuana and pot plants despite opposition from Congress. Voters approved legalising pot last year but its sale is still banned.

Oregon voters approved a similar measure in November but the drug does not become legal until July. In Maryland the state legislature began hearings yesterday on a measure to legalise marijuana.

In Alaska, anyone 21 or older can possess up to 28.3g (an ounce) of marijuana and can grow up to six plants, three of which can be flowering.

Smoking in public and buying and selling the drug remain illegal but private exchanges are allowed if money is not involved.

The department of justice has allowed the experiments proceed, saying it would look to prosecute a narrower range of marijuana-related crimes, such as sales to children.

However, that could change if a president more conservative than Barack Obama is elected in 2016, when Alaska’s first marijuana shops are likely to open.– (Reuters)