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Marijuana Model Can Follow Alcohol's


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Source: Anchorage Daily News (AK)
Author: Bill Parker
Published: October 28, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Anchorage Daily News 
Contact: [email protected] 

Compass: Points of view from the community.

Teenagers tell us it's now easier for them to get marijuana than alcohol. Why? That's because we have adopted increasingly strict penalties for selling alcohol to anyone under 21. Yes on 2 proposes the same approach for marijuana -- restricting teenager access through a targeted regulation model.

Ballot Measure 2 will undertake a new approach to marijuana regulation in Alaska when it passes on Nov. 2. Instead of an impossible-to-enforce prohibition against marijuana use by people of all ages, Measure 2 completely prohibits use only by kids under 21 and enables the state or local governments to formulate specific rules and restrictions on marijuana use among adults.

Permitting regulated adult use will actually make it easier to reduce teenage use because it takes illegal drug dealers out of the picture. Licensed marijuana retailers will make sure they don't sell to kids, just like liquor stores do now. 

In addition to severe penalties for providing marijuana to anyone under 21, the new model will restrict adult marijuana use in public, set maximum amounts that an individual can possess and maintain our tough laws against driving under the influence of marijuana. Here are more reasons to vote yes on Measure 2:

• Alaskans overwhelmingly passed the medical marijuana initiative in 1998. But patients of cancer, MS, AIDS and other diseases still have no legal access to a safe and regulated supply even if their physicians recommend it. Voting yes on 2 will mean fair treatment for patients in Alaska who have found that marijuana eases their pain and suffering. 

• The Alaska constitutional right to privacy protects practically all of our personal activities in the home, including marijuana use. In August, the state Supreme Court reaffirmed this broad right, but the Legislature still needs to bring the law into conformity with the court's decision. Voting yes on 2 sends lawmakers a strong message not to tamper with any of our personal rights and privacy.

• Alaska has spent millions of dollars arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating nonviolent adults for marijuana offenses. At the same time, too many cases of sexual assault and child abuse have gone uninvestigated. Voting yes on 2 will stop wasting your tax dollars on chasing adult marijuana users, and it will free up our justice resources for fighting the real crimes that affect so many victims, young and old. 

The current prohibition system has clearly failed to achieve its most important objective: minimizing nonadult use. More teenagers now smoke marijuana than cigarettes. It's time for a new approach in which we regulate marijuana basically as we do alcohol and tobacco. Universal prohibition is unworkable in a free society; voting yes on 2 ends it, so that Alaskans can start being smart about finding ways to keep marijuana away from teenagers.

Bill Parker is a retired Alaska deputy commissioner of corrections and former state legislator. He lives in Anchorage. 

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Yes: Measure 2: MJ Initiative Will Restore Order




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