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Alaska One Step Closer to Legalizing Pot for Recreational Use

Published On: Jan 08 2014 06:01:51 PM AKST   Updated On: Jan 08 2014 06:15:46 PM AKST

Pot pushes closer to becoming legal for recreational use in the state of Alaska. Wednesday The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana submitted more than 45,000 signatures asking for Alaskans to vote on legalizing the drug.

The vote could take place this fall if the necessary number of signatures are verified.

"Prohibition is a failed policy it's time for a change the majority of Alaskans we think will support the idea of this initiative," said Tim Hinterberger a sponsor of The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana. 

The proposal would legalize the purchase, growing and consumption of marijuana for anyone over the age of 21. 

Sergeant Detective Kathy Lacey with the Anchorage Police Department VICE unit says legalizing the drug would be like opening Pandora's box. 

"Anytime you legalize a drug, even though your saying you're only legalizing it for adults, it makes it more accessible for children," said Lacey.

Currently Alaska law legally allows people to posses up to one ounce and grow up to 6 plants, with a limit of 3 flowering, if they have a state issued medicinal marijuana card. A person can apply for the card after receiving a prescription for marijuana to treat an illness or ailment by a doctor. 

Hinterberger says although medicinal marijuana is legal it's still difficult for many people who depend on the drug to get access to it. He says that's because there's no options for retail marijuana sales, which would change under the proposed measure. 

"We think that adults who chose to use a substance like marijuana, which by all accounts is far less harmful to the individual and society than alcohol, should have the right to do so," said Hinterberger.

Hinterberger says turning in the signatures today marks the closest Alaska has come to legalizing recreational marijuana. 

At least 30,169 signatures must be verified for the measure to be on the August ballot. Hinterberger says the campaign used an a private auditor to verfiy signatures collected, so he is confident they will meet the requirements.