This week, petition drive to add a marijuana legalization referendum in Alaska reached 31,593 signatures, more than the 30,000 required to add a question to the ballot. Voters in the state will weigh the referendum on the August 19th primary ballot.
The Alaska initiative is said to be closely modeled after Colorado’s program last year, which legalized, taxed, and regulated the substance in the same way as alcohol. Alaska, like so many other states, has seen an incredible change in public thinking towards this question during the last ten years:
“In a 2004 Ivan Moore Research poll that asked if pot should be decriminalized, only 38 percent of Alaskans said yes. By 2010, the number jumped to 43 percent when Alaskans were asked if pot should be legalized. A 2013 poll by the North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling firm on behalf of the Marijuana Policy Project found that 54 percent of Alaskans polled would vote yes on a ballot initiative.”
It’s interesting, but not surprising, to see legalization happening first in a lot of states where what Republicans there are are of the more libertarian variety. Washington, obviously a blue state, has a very conservative and very libertarian side. Colorado, at least in my eyes, is basically the libertarian capital of the United States, and Alaska is not far behind. Oregon, as I discussed recently, likely has similar politics to Washington. I have a feeling it will be a lot longer before legalization comes to more of the conventional Republican states, like those in the South.