Alaska's voter initiative making marijuana legal takes effect Tuesday, placing Alaska alongside Colorado and Washington as the three U.S. states where recreational marijuana is legal. The new law means people over age 21 can consume small amounts of pot — if they can find it. It's still illegal to sell marijuana.
"You can still give people marijuana, but you can't buy it — or even barter for it," Alaska Public Media's Alexandra Gutierrez reports. "So, it's a pretty legally awkward spot. That probably won't stop people from acquiring it, though."
While marijuana is legal in three states, it's actually been legalized in four. Oregon passed an initiative similar to Alaska's that takes effect in July. Another measure adopted by voters in Washington, D.C., has been blocked by Congress.
The ballot measure that was adopted in November allows Alaskans to possess marijuana harvested from up to six plants on private property. For now, that's the biggest change in the state's pot practices.
"There are no stores yet, but black market sales are still illegal," Gutierrez adds. "The state is now crafting regulations for marijuana retailers, and the stores will be licensed and operational by next year."
The many questions that surround legalization in Alaska prompted the Alaska Dispatch News to run a story urging its readers to be "highly informed." In Anchorage, police have posted a "Know Your Grow" page.
Since November, local and state governments have been trying to clarify legal questions such as how much pot a person can possess (and in what form) and the places where consumption will be off-limits.
Also coming into play next year will be the legalization of commercial farms.
On Monday, Alaska's Gov. Bill Walker filed legislation to create a marijuana control board, similar to the body that controls alcohol sales.