In an unfortunate turn of events, the anti-marijuana crowd in Alaska gained some important allies last week when the Alaska Conference of Mayors announced that it will oppose Alaska’s recreational marijuana initiative headed to the ballot this fall. The Mayors even pledged to donate $5,000 to the, “Big Marijuana. Big Mistake. Vote No on 2,” campaign opposing the initiative. Mayors expressed “concerns over public safety issues, increased enforcement costs and whether legalized marijuana would lead to an increase in social issues such as high school dropout rates, but offered few specifics as to what such issues and costs may look like in their communities should marijuana be legalized.”
One Mayor voiced concerns that advertising or packaging of marijuana edibles may appeal to children, and even compared the potential packaging to the drug Spice (also commonly known as synthetic marijuana). This is a somewhat unbelievable comparison given the dangers posed by Spice versus that of marijuana. Without explaining why an increase in enforcement would be necessary, another Mayor told the press that most rural Alaska leaders oppose the initiative where law enforcement manpower and resources are scarce. Another Mayor argued that Alaska’s black market will continue to thrive despite legalization and that current growers are “happy with the status quo,” which is an unregulated gray market at best.
With marijuana prohibition a failing (and fading) model across the nation, it’s a shame that Alaska’s municipal leaders fail to see the value and sense of legalizing marijuana. It’s an even greater shame that some of these mayors explicitly endorse the campaign opposing the initiative, and it’s also totally illogical that the Mayors appear to be perfectly content with an existing gray to black market for marijuana in Alaska. Shouldn’t Alaska at least experiment with legalization in an attempt to fight the very concerns and fears the Mayors have about youth access, law enforcement resources, and public safety?
Ironically, Alaska’s state motto is “North to the Future,” but the Mayors’ stance on pot makes us think Alaska is not going anywhere when it comes to marijuana legalization.