Pubdate: Tue, 30 Dec 2003
Source: Juneau Empire (AK)
Copyright: 2003 Southeastern Newspaper Corp
Author: Timothy Inklebarger
Initiative: website Free Hemp in Alaska
Bookmark: (Alaska)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Registered voters will get a chance to decide next year whether to
legalize private use of marijuana for Alaskans 21 and older.

Lt. Gov. Loren Leman notified initiative sponsors in late November
that the petition has the 28,782 signatures necessary to get the
question on the 2004 ballot. Sponsors must collect signatures equal to
10 percent of those who voted in the most recent general election.

Since the marijuana initiative was filed prior to the 2002 election,
it is based on 10 percent of the voters in the 2000 general election.

"We have enough signatures," said initiative sponsor Linda Ronan of
Anchorage. "The problem is that it hasn't been certified. We don't
know what the holdup is." Annette Kreitzer, Leman's chief of staff,
said she expects the initiative to be certified within the next two

Sponsors of the initiative have grown accustomed to delays.

On Jan. 13, 2003, Leman rejected 194 of 484 signature booklets over
what Anchorage Superior Court Judge John Suddock described as "trivial
rule violations."

Following a lawsuit from the initiative sponsors, Leman was ordered in
September to recount the signature booklets.

Tom Godkin, an administrative supervisor for the Division of
Elections, said the division has not yet completed the total count of
the petition booklets but confirmed that the group has more than
enough valid signatures.

Ronan said the initiative sponsors and backers plan to begin a public
relations campaign next year to build support for the proposed new