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Fairbanks – Last week’s decision by the U.S. Justice Department to cease respecting states’ decisions on marijuana policy has prompted lawmakers to ask Alaskans to contribute to a response from the Alaska Legislature.
Last year, Rep. David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks) introduced House Joint Resolution 21 that called for the federal government to respect the authority of states to regulate marijuana. In response to the U.S. Attorney General’s decision, Rep. Guttenberg and other lawmakers are asking Alaskans help to rewrite HJR 21. The public can now provide thoughts on what should be included in the new resolution on a new Facebook page titled “Alaska’s Voice on Marijuana Policy.” All respectful contributions will be included in the bill packet and considered for incorporation into the final version of the resolution.
“The U.S. Attorney General seems hell-bent on cutting Alaska’s legal marijuana industry off at the knees. The policy shift announced last week denies the will of Alaskans, who voted overwhelmingly to legalize cannabis in 2014,” said Rep. Guttenberg. “A federally imposed prohibition overriding strong local support drives good people to indirectly support criminals through the black market. Furthermore, it threatens an industry just beginning to provide real tax revenue to the State of Alaska. I want Alaskans to have their voices heard by helping us craft an official statement from the State Legislature that says ‘No’ to enforcing an antiquated federal marijuana prohibition over the will of Alaska voters.”
Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a previous federal policy that advised federal prosecutors not to prosecute marijuana offenses in states where it was legalized by the voters, including Alaska.
“While I personally voted against the initiative to legalize marijuana in Alaska, I respect the will of Alaskan voters, and the message they sent in 2014 was quite clear,” said Rep. Jason Grenn (I-Anchorage). “My constituents in the cannabis industry have put significant capital into their establishments, taken great financial risks, and created jobs during a challenging economic time, all while following the letter of state law. They are entrepreneurs, not criminals. Despite my personal feelings on marijuana use, this overreach by the federal government is in clear conflict with the will of the Alaskan public.”
Another lawmaker supporting the effort to craft a response to the federal government with public input in Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak).
“I am very disappointed with the decision by the U.S. Attorney General. For me, this issue has nothing to do with whether you support legal marijuana but is clearly about states’ rights. Alaskans voted in strong favor of legalization, and I stand by their right to make that determination. Our state has always fought hard against federal overreach, and this is no different in my mind,” said Rep. Stutes.
Alaskans can provide input on what to include in the rewrite of HJR 21 through the new Facebook page titled “Alaska’s Voice on Marijuana Policy.”