A group of activists in favor of legalizing marijuana say they’ve turned in more than enough signatures to qualify for an August ballot vote.
The Alaska Campaign to Regulate Marijuana turned over 46,000 signatures on Wednesday—about 50 percent more than the roughly 30,000 needed. If the state Division of Elections reviews and approves the signatures ballot language will be prepared, according to a state description of the process. The sponsors of the initiative say the next step for them will be to spread the word and garner support.
“We’ll be taking our message to the voters in lots of different ways,” says Tim Hinterberger, one of the three sponsors and a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage’s School of Medical Education. “It’s clear to everyone that prohibition is a failed policy.”
Alaskan voters approved marijuana for medical use in 1998 in a 59 percent to 41 percent vote. A similar initiative for recreational use of marijuana in 2000 failed by the exact same margin that the medical marijuana measure passed. Hinterberger said he was involved in the earlier effort and that shifting attitudes encouraged him and the other sponsors to try again this year.