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Lawmaker voices concern over unintended consequences of legalized marijuana

Posted: February 20, 2014 - 8:37pm

JUNEAU — House majority members on Thursday were asked about the potential tax revenues for the state should voters approve an initiative this summer legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

Rep. Dan Saddler, R-Eagle River, acknowledged the potential for revenues. But he said legalizing pot could open the door to unintended consequences.

“I would encourage people to consider the social cost of allowing recreational marijuana use,” said Saddler, the only one of the four members at the news conference to respond to the question.

He said people can vote the way they want but should “think twice, think three times before considering whether letting that happen.”

Colorado’s governor, in a budget proposal Wednesday, estimated sales and excise taxes of nearly $100 million on marijuana next fiscal year, above the estimate of $70 million a year given to voters when they approved the tax. Colorado is one of two states that has legalized recreational use of marijuana. Washington is the other.

The Alaska initiative, scheduled to appear on the August primary ballot, would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and as many as six plants, including three that are flowering. It would not allow public consumption of weed. Anyone smoking in public would face a $100 fine.

The initiative would grant regulatory control to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and give the Legislature the option to create a marijuana control board. It also would establish an excise tax of $50 an ounce or a proportionate part on the sale or transfer of marijuana from a cultivation facility to a retail marijuana store or marijuana product manufacturing facility. The cultivation facility would pay the tax.

Taylor Bickford, a spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska, said the campaign hasn’t released any estimates on the potential amount of revenue the tax could generate but expects to.

“What we do know is that regulating marijuana like alcohol will bolster our economy, create jobs, and generate new revenue for Alaska,” he said by email. “Marijuana sales will be conducted by legitimate taxpaying businesses, instead of criminal enterprises in the underground market.”

Online:

State Division of Elections petition list: http://1.usa.gov/1f0l8d6

Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska: http://regulatemarijuanainalaska.org

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Steven Chamberlain
324
Points
Steven Chamberlain 02/21/14 - 01:29 am
1
4
Vote NO !

Vote "NO" on the legalization of marijuana !

Suss
4041
Points
Suss 02/21/14 - 06:33 am
1
1
Hashish and Marijuana Derivatives

There is an inequity now, where a ball of resin becomes so much more of a problem than if the resins stayed on the plant.

If passed ....

Hashish; Marijuana Resins and their concentrates would become legal. This is a major change from the current serious penalties.

Hash & Concentrates
Possession of 3 grams or less misdemeanor 0 - 1 year $ 10,000
Possession of more than 3 grams felony 0 - 2 years $50,000
Delivery, manufacture, or possessing with intent to distribute of any amount felony 1 - 3 years $ 100,000

http://norml.org/laws/item/alaska-penalties

jlmh
352
Points
jlmh 02/21/14 - 09:39 am
0
3
Why the rush? Let's see what

Why the rush?

Let's see what happens to Washington and Colorado first. Then we can decide whether the long-term outcome is worth it, and spare ourselves the hassle of repealing it later. At the very least, we can draft laws that are tried-and-true, instead of arbitrary or loosely based on alcohol and tobacco regulation.

It's going to be a whole lot harder to backtrack, once business ventures get invested, state governments become dependent on the revenue, and people develop addictions. For example, will the $100 fine for public smoking be an adequate deterrent? I doubt it. Will we see a spike in juvenile consumption? Maybe. Will the tax revenue offset the associated healthcare costs the state will incur? Who knows. Let CO and WA be the guinea pigs for awhile. Put this on the ballot again in 100 years or so.

Norseman
3616
Points
Norseman 02/21/14 - 05:09 pm
2
1
"What we do know is that

"What we do know is that regulating marijuana like alcohol will bolster our economy, create jobs, and generate new revenue for Alaska,” he said by email. “Marijuana sales will be conducted by legitimate taxpaying businesses, instead of criminal enterprises in the underground market.”

Bolster our economy, create jobs, and generate new income......I like the sounds of that.

Alcohol is a far worse drug than mary jane. I think I will start getting the back 40 prepped for planting.

jlmh
352
Points
jlmh 02/22/14 - 08:42 pm
0
4
Revenue isn't the only thing

Revenue isn't the only thing to consider.

Some preliminary research is already showing a major increase in marijuana-related traffic fatalities. The legalization of medical marijuana alone tripled the amount of marijuana-related traffic fatalities in 20 states, based on toxicology reports from 23,000 cases. Extrapolate that trend to the general population and we have a lot to learn from Washington and Colorado in the coming years.

Researchers at the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University Medical Center, who authored the 2013 study, predicted that marijuana-related accidents will out-number alcohol-related ones by 2020, based on trends over the last 11 years.

Can we really afford to have this trend on Alaskan roads, with longer periods of darkness, icy conditions, and moose crossing that demands even greater driver alertness?

This article offers a glimpse into how legalization has changed attitudes about marijuana consumption in public and while driving, even though it's still illegal in those situations: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/pot-fuels-surge-drugged-drivin....

That's something to think about in addition to the tempting promise of tax revenue.

Suss
4041
Points
Suss 02/23/14 - 08:37 am
4
1
Decreased DUI Fatalities with pot legalization?

This is kind of an outlier and contradicts jlmh's premise.

A separate study — also based on FARS data — found that in states where medical marijuana was approved, traffic fatalities decrease by as much as 11 percent during the first year after legalization. Written by researchers at the University of Colorado, Oregon and Montana State University, the paper was published in 2013 in the Journal of Law & Economics.

Those authors theorized pot, for some, becomes a substitute for alcohol. They cited a recent, 13-percent drop in drunk-driving deaths in states where medical marijuana is legal.

“Marijuana reform is associated with … a decrease in traffic fatalities, most likely due to its impact on alcohol consumption,” said Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, a trade association in Colorado.

Norseman
3616
Points
Norseman 02/23/14 - 03:14 pm
4
1
Sorry jlmh, I cannot buy your

Sorry jlmh,
I cannot buy your comparison between alcohol and weed. The devastation alcohol has and is doing to our society is ten times worse than anything pot will ever do.

It is time to let go of the old propaganda about weed and let reality step forward for a change.

Marijuana isn't the demon drug that we were led to believe as children of the 60's. It is time for our State to control and regulate the growing and sales of this product, instead of letting the drug cartels and criminals run the show.

BigRedDog
670
Points
BigRedDog 02/24/14 - 05:22 am
2
0
We all know someone.

Think about it and you will come up with more than a few friends that have basically drank themselves to death. I've had a couple of close buddies that just could not put that bottle down and carried one to an early grave. I have never heard of ANYONE smoking themselves to death on pot!
NORMAL put up $250,000 cash for the origin of the much fabled church movie of the early 60's 'Killer Weed". This movie played in every church nation wide. It presented the story of a man lighting up a "Reefer Madness" joint then going mad and returning to his home to kill his wife and 2 children. Never happened period end of story, the whole thing was a lie, but People still believe it did happen! And apparently they vote!
It appears that the past three Presidents of these United States each at least tried pot. To bad at least one of them didn't get busted, no I wouldn't even wish that on you know who! But get one pot arrest and good luck getting a decent job EVER in your life! Now ask yourself, "Do I really think it's right to use the power of law to lock someone up, deprive them employment, socially scar them for life, make them more likely to be under employed for the rest of their lives? For a law based on hog wash?" Because that is what your law and many votes for it are based on is hog-wash!

jlmh
352
Points
jlmh 02/24/14 - 11:50 am
0
3
I don't know about the killer

I don't know about the killer movie, but it's undisputed that marijuana - like alcohol - impairs judgment.

I am curious about the circumstances that supposedly put all these people in jail and ruin their lives. As far as I know, we don't have routine home searches or even traffic stops for discovering whether someone possesses marijuana. If they were caught, they must have done something to warrant a house call, or a traffic stop, or whatever, that ultimately revealed the marijuana. It seems that if people were using it responsibly, no one would ever know. Right?

beaverlooper
3152
Points
beaverlooper 02/24/14 - 04:15 pm
3
0
Reefer madness

Have you seen reefer madness? Do you believe it if you have? They showed us that movie to us when we went to high school and when people found out what BS it was, they thought the warnings about drugs that are a REAL danger were BS too.

jlmh
352
Points
jlmh 02/26/14 - 03:31 pm
0
0
Way before my time.

Way before my time. Do you really think they'd be showing a 1936 film for drug awareness?

Suss
4041
Points
Suss 02/26/14 - 05:28 pm
3
1
Reefer Madness a Cult Classic

I don't think anyone bought the propaganda from the first showing till now. The Army had the movie in boot camp and it was a comic relief for the boots. This is and will always be a great spoof, way ahead of its time.

beaverlooper
3152
Points
beaverlooper 02/28/14 - 11:28 pm
0
0
way before my time

They did at Kenai central high school when I went there,so yes.

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