Friday, September 24, 2004

Alaska moves forward on cannabis legalization

Pete at Drug WarRant has the latest on the new initiative that will appear on the ballot in Alaska this November. Hot on the heels of the recent Alaskan Supreme Court ruling making possession of four ounces or less legal in one's own home and barring search warrants to be issued unless law enforcement could prove a reasonable expectation of finding a larger quantity, a group called Yes on 2 has begun campaigning in earnest for a ballot measure to legalize and regulate marijuana in the state. Organizers appear to have learned from an earlier failed attempt brought forward in 2000. They've recruited a carefully selected group of spokespeople to help make their pitch, including a biomedical professor, a former high-ranking state corrections officer and a prominent Republican Party official and are asking less of voters in an attempt to make the measure more appealing.

"The legalizers have done a good job this time," said former U.S. Attorney Wev Shea, who backed a 1990 initiative to criminalize pot in Alaska and was also a key spokesman against legalization in 2000. "Have you seen the commercials? ... They're really professional."

Shea and his fellow prohibitionists are concerned that there is no organized opposition this time around and are calling for a counter-campaign based on the same tired old propaganda that has been disproved time and time again. They have an uphill battle against the likes of Bill Parker, a former legislator and deputy commissioner of corrections in Alaska from 1995 until his retirement in 2002.

Parker said in a recent interview that Alaskans should vote for Ballot Measure 2 because it would protect individual privacy rights, stop the government from wasting taxpayer dollars to fight marijuana and regulate the drug in a way that will make it harder for kids to get but easier for adults to obtain legally. Drug dealers don't discriminate between children and adults by asking for an ID, Parker said.

Meanwhile, as Pete at Drug WarRant notes, ONDCP underling, Jennifer de Vallance remarking on the funding for Yes on 2 is whining that, "There is no well-funded political movement to keep our society safe." That's choice coming from someone who profits from the current prohibition and whose agency squanders millions of your tax dollars annually on such insipid schemes as the ineffective anti-drug ads equating marijuana use with teenage pregnancy and terrorism that actually contributed to an increase in teenage drug experimentation.


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