Pubdate: Fri, 21 Nov 2014
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK)
Copyright: 2014 Fairbanks Publishing Company, Inc.
Author: Amanda Bohman


FAIRBANKS - One of the Alaska's top prosecutors said the state will 
continue to prosecute people for possessing and selling marijuana for 
the time being, despite a pending voter-approved law to legalize 
small amounts of pot.

"We are not blind or oblivious to the fact that there is a change 
coming, but the change is not here yet," said John Skidmore, director 
of the criminal division for the Alaska Department of Law.

"We did communicate to our folks that right now it is business as 
usual," he said. "We are evaluating what to do in the future."

The law is changing after voters approved a ballot measure this month 
allowing people to possess, transport, sell and grow certain amounts 
of marijuana. But the manner in which marijuana activities will be 
allowed to take place has yet to be determined. The new law takes 
effect sometime next year.

Incoming Gov. Bill Walker, who opposed the ballot measure, said he 
plans to find out how other states have rolled out more permissive 
marijuana laws.

"I will follow the wish of the voters on that, and so we'll have an 
implementation plan," Walker said. "We will certainly reach out to 
the states of Washington and Colorado to discuss with them their 
implementation plan, what worked for them, what was more challenging 
and try to learn from their experience."

Skidmore said there are many unanswered questions about how the new 
law will work.

For example, current law doles out a stricter punishment for people 
caught selling marijuana within 500 feet of a school.

When the government starts issuing permits allowing the sale of 
marijuana, will it be allowed to happen near schools? What about parks?

Marijuana use in public will continue to be illegal, but what about 
privately owned businesses that cater to the public?

"Those are conversations that have to be had," Skidmore said. "The 
Legislature this coming session has a lot of issues they need to look 
at and examine."

Law enforcement officers continue to cite people for misconduct 
involving a controlled substance in the sixth degree for possessing 
small amounts of marijuana.

An Anchorage man was cited by Alaska State Troopers for possessing 
less than an ounce of marijuana Saturday during a traffic stop near 
Cantwell. The marijuana was confiscated.

"Technically, it's still against the law," troopers spokeswoman Megan 
Peters said. "We have to enforce the law."

Lt. Matt Soden, of the Fairbanks Police Department, said Fairbanks 
officers will continue to cite people for breaking the law with 
marijuana unless they are told something different by the District Attorney.

"There are consequences still for using marijuana outside of the 
home," Soden said.
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