Pubdate: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 Source: Juneau Empire (AK) Copyright: 2003 Southeastern Newspaper Corp Contact: http://www.juneauempire.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/549 Author: Timothy Inklebarger Initiative: website Free Hemp in Alaska http://www.freehempinak.org Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/states/ak/ (Alaska) Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/pot.htm (Cannabis) ALASKANS TO VOTE ON POT LEGALIZATION IN '04 ELECTION 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 weeks. 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 law.