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It’s official: Pot legalization will be put to a vote in Alaska this August

Rick Wilking/Reuter

Alaska is poised to be the third state to legalize pot in the nation—that is, if voters approve a ballot measure this August.

The state’s Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R) on Wednesday announced that two measures would be on the Aug. 19 ballot — one proposing marijuana legalization and another raising the minimum wage to $8.75 an hour at the start of 2015 and higher later on.

As in Colorado and Washington state — where the substance was legalized as of the start of the year — the Alaska measure would allow adults 21 and older to own, smoke and buy the drug while also allowing individuals to grow up to six marijuana plants.

It would be regulated by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board or a newly created Marijuana Control Board. Unlike the Washington and Colorado policies, Alaska’s would tax pot at a flat $50 an ounce rather than using a percentage of the cost. It would be paid by the cultivator of the plant. The state estimates it will cost between $3.7 and $7 million to implement in the first year.

Alaskan voters approved marijuana for medical use in 1998 in a 59 percent to 41 percent vote. But a similar initiative to approve the substance for recreational use six years later failed by the exact same margin.

Supporters hope that attitudes toward marijuana within the state have since turned, as they have nationally.

(CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated when Alaskans last voted on pot legalization. It was 2004.)