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Representative Don Young Cosponsors – H.R.1855: To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow deductions and credits relating to expenditures in connection with marijuana sales conducted in compliance with State law. | Congress.gov

via Cosponsors – H.R.1855 – 114th Congress (2015-2016): To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow deductions and credits relating to expenditures in connection with marijuana sales conducted in compliance with State law. | Congress.gov | Library of Congress.

I don’t agree with Don Young on a lot of issues, but I appreciate what he and like minded people are doing in Congress with respect to marijuana. He understands that federalism exists and is doing what he can to limit federal reach in states that have legalized marijuana to some degree. I applaud these efforts.

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Vote Tuesday! It’s Important!

Remember to vote tomorrow if you haven’t already. The fate of the US Senate may hang in the balance. In Alaska we also have important decisions to make on marijuana, minimum wage and mining projects.

In Alaska, ballot and voting place information can be found on our Division of Elections page. If you live outside Alaska, check out the US Election Assistance Commission’s State Information Page.

Measure 2 (Marijuana) – Local Control Exists

I recently received a mailing that claimed that under villages would not have the right to control marijuana if Ballot Measure 2 passes. In fact, they would have considerable control over a new marijuana industry and not lose any control they currently have over personal possession or use of marijuana. If you visit the Region I Official Election Pamphlet and look at page 86 of the PDF file, you’ll find this section on local control:

Sec. 17.38.110. Local control.
(a) A local government may prohibit the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities,
marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities, or retail marijuana
stores through the enactment of an ordinance or by a voter initiative.
(b) A local government may enact ordinances or regulations not in conflict with this chapter
or with regulations enacted pursuant to this chapter, governing the time, place, manner
and number of marijuana establishment operations. A local government may establish civil
penalties for violation of an ordinance or regulation governing the time, place, and manner of
a marijuana establishment that may operate in such local government.
(c) A local government may designate a local regulatory authority that is responsible for
processing applications submitted for a registration to operate a marijuana establishment
within the boundaries of the local government. The local government may provide that the
local regulatory authority may issue such registrations should the issuance by the local
government become necessary because of a failure by the board to adopt regulations

pursuant to AS 17.38.090 or to accept or process applications in accordance with AS
17.38.100.
(d) A local government may establish procedures for the issuance, suspension, and
revocation of a registration issued by the local government in accordance with (f) of this
section or (g) of this section. These procedures shall be subject to all requirements of AS
44.62, the Administrative Procedure Act.
(e) A local government may establish a schedule of annual operating, registration, and
application fees for marijuana establishments, provided, the application fee shall only be
due if an application is submitted to a local government in accordance with (f) of this section
and a registration fee shall only be due if a registration is issued by a local government in
accordance with (f) of this section or (g) of this section.
(f) If the board does not issue a registration to an applicant within 90 days of receipt of
the application filed in accordance with AS 17.38.100 and does not notify the applicant of
the specific, permissible reason for its denial, in writing and within such time period, or if the
board has adopted regulations pursuant to AS 17.38.090 and has accepted applications
pursuant to AS 17.38.100 but has not issued any registrations by 15 months after the
effective date of this act, the applicant may resubmit its application directly to the local
regulatory authority, pursuant to (c) of this section, and the local regulatory authority
may issue an annual registration to the applicant. If an application is submitted to a local
regulatory authority under this paragraph, the board shall forward to the local regulatory
authority the application fee paid by the applicant to the board upon request by the local
regulatory authority.
(g) If the board does not adopt regulations required by AS 17.38.090, an applicant may
submit an application directly to a local regulatory authority after one year after the effective
date of this act and the local regulatory authority may issue an annual registration to the
applicant.
(h) A local regulatory authority issuing a registration to an applicant shall do so within
90 days of receipt of the submitted or resubmitted application unless the local regulatory
authority finds and notifies the applicant that the applicant is not in compliance with
ordinances and regulations made pursuant to (b) of this section in effect at the time the
application is submitted to the local regulatory authority. The local government shall notify
the board if an annual registration has been issued to the applicant.
(i) A registration issued by a local government in accordance with (f) of this section or (g)
of this section shall have the same force and effect as a registration issued by the board
in accordance with AS 17.38.100. The holder of such registration shall not be subject to
regulation or enforcement by the board during the term of that registration.
(j) A subsequent or renewed registration may be issued under (f) of this section on an
annual basis only upon resubmission to the local government of a new application submitted
to the board pursuant to AS 17.38.100.
(k) A subsequent or renewed registration may be issued under (g) of this section on an
annual basis if the board has not adopted regulations required by AS 17.38.090 at least
90 days prior to the date upon which such subsequent or renewed registration would be
effective or if the board has adopted regulations pursuant to AS 17.38.090 but has not, at
least 90 days after the adoption of such regulations, issued registrations pursuant to AS
17.38.100.
(l) Nothing in this section shall limit such relief as may be available to an aggrieved party under AS 44.62, the Administrative Procedure Act

You’ll notice as I did that the initiative is silent on personal possession and use. That’s because the State Supreme court ruled a long time ago that small amounts of marijuana in a person’s home was protected by the privacy clause of the Alaska Constitution, as acknowledged by the Alaska Department of Law. So villages would not be losing any authority to ban marijuana use entirely because they haven’t had that authority since 1975. They WILL be able to ban retail sales and growing operations or elect to collect licensing fees on operations in their communities.

Prosecutor, Former Corrections Official, Teacher/Mother – End Prohibition on Marijuana

I’m voting yes on 2 this November. See the Official Election Pamphlet for full text of initiative, plus statements in favor and in opposition.

Former Corrections Deputy Commissioner: Marijuana Prohibition is a Waste

I’m voting yes on 2 this November. See the Official Election Pamphlet for full text of initiative, plus statements in favor and in opposition.

Valdez Police Officer: Legalize marijuana so we can focus on serious crime

I’m voting yes on 2 this November. See the Official Election Pamphlet for full text of initiative, plus statements in favor and in opposition.

Why I’ll be voting for legal weed in November

In November 2014, Alaskan voters will be asked whether to legalize marijuana use for people over 21. It is 2014 Ballot Measure 2 and I will be voting yes. I am telling you this despite my reluctance to comment on State of Alaska issues because I think this is a matter of justice.

 

I am voting yes because: Alcohol is more harmful than marijuana.

If alcohol is legal, so should marijuana. According to the CDC:

Excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death. This dangerous behavior accounted for approximately 88,000 deaths per year from 2006–2010, and accounted for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20–64 years.

88,000 deaths from over drinking. Per year. That’s nearly 30 9/11s each and every year. But we accept these deaths as the price of liberty. Or we don’t accept them but realize that Prohibition has been tried and failed in this country. By contrast, there are zero documented deaths from marijuana. It’s hard prove a negative, but:

If you can find a reliable (sourced from a peer-reviewed journal or government publication) that can attribute more than 88,000 deaths per year to marijuana products, leave a comment with full citation.

Aside from being deadly to people who drink, alcohol is associated with higher likelihood of domestic violence, while marijuana is not.

I have personal and painful experience to the power of alcohol to produce violence and misery. My father beat my mom and my siblings, usually while drunk. I do not recall being beaten, but I lived in perpetual fear of being next. I was drunkenly cussed out many times and Christmas time was usually more pleasant if he was out on a drunk.  I actually had nightmares involving my drunk father for several years after I moved away from home. So again, if we can allow something as poisonous to family life as alcohol in our society, I’d be grateful to legalize something that wasn’t quite as violence stimulating.

In addition to being less harmful than alcohol, it appears that legalizing marijuana, at least for medical use actually decreases deaths from painkiller overdoses by about 25%.

Marijuana use does have its risks. Check out any of the fact sheets I’ve linked to. I’m just saying they pale in comparison to the chaos and death rained down upon us all by alcohol. We manage to keep society mostly intact despite alcohol’s assault. Marijuana will be a cinch to handle in comparison.

 

I am voting yes because: Too many lives have been ruined by possession arrests and convictions.

Once you get caught up in the justice system, it’s easy to get into a downward spiral. You get a drug conviction and people find excuses not to hire you. You may no longer be eligible to go to college. You might go to prison for a simple possession offense and learn new ways of crime while behind bars.

According to the Alaska State Troopers 2012 Drug Report, over 3,000 marijuana related arrests were made between 2010 and 2012. For a drug with no known overdose deaths and which isn’t associated with domestic violence. I think that it is a tragedy that thousands of lives were fed into our justice system for this.

Nationally, marijuana arrests disproportionately fall on people of color. According to the ACLU, “Despite roughly equal usage rates, Blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.” In some states, Blacks are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. We need to ditch something that has so much racial bias in its application.

 

I am voting yes because: I lean libertarian.

As a matter of principle, I don’t think the State has any business regulating consensual conduct that does not harm others. Your freedom to swing your fist may end at my nose, but you’re free to go up to that limit. For example, marijuana should be included in DUI laws. I don’t care if you smoke a few joints in your home. But if you then hop in your car and start driving, that’s a risk to others that can and should be regulated.

 

Those are the reasons that I will vote to legalize marijuana in this state. I believe people of good will can come to a different conclusion. So if you’re a friend of mine who is a “no” voter, I’m ok with that, though I expect you to be willing to agree to disagree.

 

References:

Summary of 2014 Ballot Measure 2 – http://www.elections.alaska.gov/doc/bml/BM2-13PSUM-ballot-language.pdf

Official Election Pamphlet General Election 2014, Book I – http://www.elections.alaska.gov/doc/oep/2014/AK-Region-I-book.pdf – Ballot Measure 2 begins on page 63 of the booklet. While the State provided a cost estimate for regulating marijuana, it did not include any information from the Department of Corrections. A recently Fairbanks News-Miner article estimated it cost $50,000 a year to house a prisoner, so any costs from legalizing marijuana would be partially offset from the savings realized by not putting marijuana users and small dealers away.

CDC Alcohol Deaths – http://www.cdc.gov/features/alcohol-deaths/

DrugFacts: Marijuana – http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana

The Toxicity of Recreational Drugs – Alcohol is more lethal than many other commonly abused substances. By Robert Gable. New Scientist. May-June 2006, Volume 94, Number 3, Page: 206, DOI: 10.1511/2006.3.206 – http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/the-toxicity-of-recreational-drugs/1

Fewer Painkiller Deaths in States With Medical Marijuana: Study People with chronic pain may use pot instead of narcotics, researchers suggest
Monday, August 25, 2014, Health Day News
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_148041.html

Cost of housing state’s prison population has senators seeking sentencing reform
Posted: Fairbanks Daily News Miner. Sunday, October 6, 2013 12:02 am | Updated: 5:42 am, Mon Oct 7, 2013.
By Matt Buxton/mbuxton@newsminer.com
URL: Not listed because too long. Click on title for story.

2012 Drug Report. Alaska State Troopers.  –  http://www.dps.alaska.gov/AST/ABI/docs/SDEUreports/2012%20Annual%20Drug%20Report.pdf

Marijuana Arrests by the Numbers. ACLUhttps://www.aclu.org/criminal-law-reform/marijuana-arrests-numbers

 

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