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Alaska AG Says Feds Couldn’t Overturn State’s Cannabis Law

February 24, 2017
Clouds and fog covering the snow-capped mountain peaks over the inlet at Skagway, Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A representative for the Alaska attorney general’s office said a change in how the federal government enforces its own marijuana laws would not affect state cannabis laws.

Alaska’s law legalizing adult-use cannabis wouldn’t be overturned, Department of Law spokeswoman Cori Mills said Thursday after White House spokesman Sean Spicer suggested during a press briefing that President Donald Trump’s administration might crack down on states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Alaska is one of eight states, along with the District of Columbia, that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

“The federal law is one thing and the state has the right to enact laws in this area and those are perfectly constitutional,” Mills said. “Our law wouldn’t be overturned. But there is a different federal law, and how they want to enforce the federal law is up to the federal government. We’ll just wait and see what sort of actions they take.”

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Cary Carrigan, executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, said it’s too early to get too worked up about Spicer’s comments. He said this sounds like an initial overture.

“But you have to see something happen before you can really react to it,” he said.

A bipartisan group of U.S. representatives from states where marijuana is legal, said the White House spokesman’s statements reaffirms the need for their newly formed group, called the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.

“We hope today’s comments do not reflect the views of the president and his administration,” said the statement from Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; Jared Polis, D-Colo., Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., and Don Young, R-Alaska.

“We stand ready to educate this administration on the need for more sensible marijuana policies and share the many experiences states have had with the legalization of cannabis,” the four co-chairs said.

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Cannabis Now Has Its Own Congressional Caucus

“Together, we will continue to work in a bipartisan manner to reform our failed marijuana policies and provide a voice for Americans who have overwhelmingly voted for a more sensible drug policy,” the statement says.

Mills said Alaska created marijuana regulations that drew guidance from a memo issued by Deputy U.S. Attorney James Cole regarding federal marijuana enforcement.

The memo laid out that limited federal enforcement resources would focus on the most significant threats. Those included, for example, distribution of marijuana to minors, revenue from marijuana sales going to criminal enterprises, gangs or cartels, and the possible diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law to some form in other states.

“The federal law does differ from state law, so we will have to see how they come down on that,” Mills said.

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  • lovingc

    Isn’t cannabis in the state constitution?

  • Sitkajo

    Personal home use is in the State Constitution. That’s been going on in Alaska since 1972, with its live and let live, independent minded culture. But ‘recreational’ marijuana means shops and growers, operating with State sanction, paying taxes and getting licenses to do so. Its a whole new ball game.