Alaska allows recreational marijuana as legalization campaign spreads

Tue Feb 24, 2015 2:50pm EST
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By Steve Quinn

JUNEAU, Alaska (Reuters) - Smoking, growing and owning small amounts of marijuana became legal in Alaska on Tuesday as a growing decriminalization movement reached the United States' northwest frontier.

Alaska, which narrowly passed the measure in November, followed Colorado and Washington among states allowing recreational use, reflecting a rapidly shifting legal landscape for the drug.

It remains illegal, however, under federal law.

In the District of Columbia, Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Tuesday the U.S. capital would go ahead with legalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and pot plants despite opposition from Congress. Voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing pot last year, but its sale is still banned.

Oregon voters approved a similar measure in November, but the drug does not become legal until July. In Maryland, the state legislature began hearings on Tuesday on a measure to legalize marijuana.

In Alaska, anyone aged 21 or older can possess up to an ounce (28.3 grams) of marijuana and can grow up to six plants, three of which can be flowering.

Smoking in public and buying and selling the drug remains illegal, but private exchanges are allowed if money is not involved.

President Barack Obama's Department of Justice has allowed the experiments to proceed, saying it would look to prosecute a narrower range of marijuana-related crimes, such as sales to children.   Continued...

A participant practices rolling a joint at the Cannabis Carnivalus 4/20 event in Seattle, Washington April 20, 2014.  REUTERS/Jason Redmond