Article by PolicyMic –May 6, 2014
The news: On Aug. 19, Alaska voters will go to the polls to cast their primary ballots for statewide elections. And they'll also be voting on an initiative to make Alaska the third state to legalize the sale and taxation of recreational marijuana.
And it has a very good chance of doing just that, according to poll results commissioned by the Alaska State House of Representatives. Legalization leads prohibition by an 8% margin, with 52% for, 44% against and 4% undecided. Support is predictably strongest among Democrats and younger voters, but the initiative is opposed by Republicans and voters over the age of 45, who are more likely to actually get to the polls and vote.
The proposed legislation would lift prohibition of marijuana across the state and clear the way for full-scale commercialization. Persons under the age of 21 will be prohibited from possessing or using marijuana, while a tax of $50 an ounce will be imposed on all commercial transactions. The state doesn't yet have any projections on how much revenue the tax would generate, but in Colorado (admittedly a much larger state), about $1 billion in sales is projected over the next fiscal year. That's an estimated $134 million in state tax revenue — a big chunk of change.
Will this happen? "I just think marijuana's going to revolutionize things in Alaska as much as oil ever did. The prospect for jobs and new business start-ups is phenomenal. All Alaskans should be excited about it," disabled veteran and Alaska Hemp owner Bill Fikes told the Alaska Dispatch. With some "creative financing," he's anticipating a victory for legalization this year and is planning to start his own grow operation. Fikes thinks that by planning early, he can "try and at least get a little head start on the carpetbaggers" he envisions flocking to the state, like major corporations making millions in Colorado and Washington.