With nearly a month to go before their signature-gathering deadline, organizers of an Alaska marijuana legalization initiative are well-placed to qualify for the ballot, but it's not a sure thing yet. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana told local media outlets last week they have already gathered almost 45,000 signatures, nearly half again the 31,169 valid voter signatures they need to take the issue to voters.Campaigners said they would continue to seek signatures up until a January 21 deadline. Initiative campaigners want a healthy number of excess signatures because they must assume that some number of signatures will be deemed invalid.
A common rule of thumb is that 25% to 30% of gathered signatures will be ruled invalid. As things now stand, if 30% of the signatures were found invalid, it would barely qualify.
If the measure qualifies for the ballot, Alaska could become the next state to legalize marijuana because even if other states qualify initiatives for the November ballot, Alaskans would vote on their measure in August.
The initiative backed by the Marijuana Policy Project would legalize the possession of up to an ounce by persons 21 and over and allow the cultivation of up to six plants (only three in flowering) and the possession of their harvests.
It would also direct the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to develop rules and regulations for legal, taxable commercial marijuana cultivation, processing, and sales, and to do so within nine months. The legislature would have the option of instead creating a Marijuana Control Board to oversee regulation.
The initiative would allow localities to opt-out of legal marijuana commerce via local ordinance or vote, and it sets a wholesale transfer excise tax of $50 an ounce.