Marijuana: Poll Finds Alaskans Just Say No to Recriminalization 3/24/06

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Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski has been trying for the last two years to undo Alaska Supreme Court and appeals court decisions upholding the right under the state constitution of citizens to possess up to a quarter-pound of marijuana at home. Last year, despite Murkowski's best efforts, his bill to recriminalize marijuana died for lack of legislative interest.

This year, Murkowski and his allies overreached, getting their hands slapped when they tried to tie the marijuana issue to a meth bill. That bill is still alive, however, and is being considered by a Senate-House conference committee despite solons' grumblings over Murkowski's maneuvers.

Now, legislators have even more reason to tell Murkowski to go away. According to a poll conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research for the Marijuana Policy Project, 56% of Alaskans surveyed oppose any effort to recriminalize marijuana, while only 43% support it. One percent can't make up their minds.

Similarly, 50% of voters said they supported the Alaska Supreme Court ruling that the state constitution's privacy provisions allowing people to possess up to a quarter-pound at home for personal use. When asked if they would approve if smaller amounts of marijuana were permitted, support rose to 56%. "Alaskans strongly disapprove of the governor's marijuana legislation, and don't want our legislators rushing ahead with this cobbled-together, poorly thought-out bill," said Bill Parker, former Alaska state legislator and retired deputy commissioner of corrections. "The conference committee now has one more reason to put the brakes on this ill-conceived idea."

"Alaskans value the right of privacy in our own homes as guaranteed in our constitution," said Michael McLeod-Ball of the ACLU of Alaska. "Alaskans think it's wrong for the governor and legislature to do an end-run around our constitutional privacy protections. The mainstream believes there's a middle ground that the politicians are ignoring in the name of partisan politics."

If Alaska legislators need some backbone to oppose the governor on the marijuana recriminalization bill, this poll should provide a good shot of stiffener.

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Issue #428 -- 3/24/06

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