As Alaska Marijuana Legalization Nears, Concern Arises Over Possible Delay in Sales Rules

As Alaska prepares for marijuana legalization, there are plenty of unknowns about what implementation will look like. But for supporters of Ballot Measure 2, one thing is clear: A strict timeline was built into the voter-passed initiative to guide rule makers and citizens through the legalization process.

Starting Feb. 24, personal possession and use of recreational marijuana will be legal in Alaska. That date also starts the clock on a nine-month countdown for the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to begin crafting marijuana regulations.

But that date also starts a two-year countdown to Feb. 24, 2017, when the Legislature can, under the Alaska constitution, repeal the entire law.

Among the law’s supporters, there is quiet concern that legislators and other public officials will attempt to extend the rule-making schedule, in effect slowing the process and potentially stopping implementation.

“There is the fear that the more schedule slips, the more it plays into the goals of the prohibitionists who want to see it shut down,” said Bruce Schulte, spokesman for the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation, a group that represents the state’s pot industry.

If businesses can’t be up and running before the two-year mark, it will be easier for lawmakers to invalidate the initiative, which passed 53 to 47 percent in the November election.

“There may even be a few legislators who want to (slow it down),” Schulte said, “but we’ve made it clear: Any deliberate or overt attempt to do that just looks bad. It just looks like an effort to subvert the will of the voters, and we don’t think very many legislators are really of that mindset.”

– Read the entire article at Alaska Dispatch News.