Alaska: House passes marijuana bill
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - In a surprise vote Friday, the Alaska
House passed a bill that would both recriminalize marijuana
possession and make it tougher to by the ingredients to
House last month rejected the conference committee's
marijuana.m.eth bill, but voted 21-17 Friday night to
rescind that action.
bill went on to pass without debate 24-14.
don't think it was a reversal, I think it was an evolution
toward good policy," said Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, who
sponsored the methamphetamine bill.
Senate last month accepted the conference committee report,
meaning the bill now goes to Gov. Frank Murkowski to sign
originally rejecting the bill, many House members said they
supported the methamphetamine provisions, which would have
restricted the sale of many over-the-counter medicines that
are used in making the drug. However, they objected to the
marijuana provisions being added without having enough
committee hearings in the House.
Senate tacked on the marijuana provisions, which Murkowski
had introduced last year and called "must-pass" legislation.
Murkowski is seeking to overturn a long-standing decision in
which the Alaska Supreme Court ruled it was legal for
Alaskans to possess small amounts of marijuana in their
homes for personal use.
bill lists a number of findings that say marijuana is a more
potent and dangerous drug than it was 30 years ago, which
the governor hopes will give the court a basis to overturn
Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz, D-Anchorage, said he
believed the only reason the vote was reversed was because
of pressure on lawmakers by the governor's office for
Murkowski's priority bill.
me, this shows how distorted this process has become,"
Berkowitz said. "If I wake up in the morning and there's
snow on the ground, I don't have to see the snow falling to
know that it has snowed. It's what you call circumstantial
"Obviously we are pleased. The governor worked real hard on
this, it's something he believes in. It's a good day for
Alaska," said Kevin Jardell, the governor's legislative
response to House minority leaders accusations that the
governor pressured lawmakers into voting for the bill, he
said, "That's insulting to the legislators and the
However, House Speaker John Harris, R-Valdez, said he did
not believe the votes changed specifically due to pressure
from the governor's office.
think the governor certainly has petitioned members to
change their vote," Harris said. "I think it's mainly
because a number of members voted no earlier because of the
process. The Senate put two bills together and so a number
of our members weren't happy with that process and now I
think have softened their feelings a little bit and aren't
nearly as angry about that."
American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska Director Michael
Macleod-Ball sent a letter to Attorney General David Marquez
Friday saying the ACLU would sue for injunctive relief if
the bill becomes law.
and simple, you are attempting to further restrict the right
to privacy enjoyed by all Alaskans by enacting the marijuana
provisions of (the bill)," Macleod-Ball wrote.
bill is House Bill 149.