- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 27, 2014

An Alaska initiative to legalize recreational marijuana qualified Wednesday for the August primary ballot after gathering more than 36,000 valid signatures.

Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell signed off on the petition after the Alaska Division of Elections found that the campaign had reached 36,030 signatures, nearly 6,000 more than required.

If approved by voters in the Aug. 19 primary, the legalization initiative would make Alaska the third state to allow retail pot sales for adults 21 and over. Colorado and Washington voters passed similar measures in November 2012.

“A bipartisan tidal wave of public support for regulating marijuana like alcohol in Alaska has pushed this initiative onto the ballot, and we will be running an aggressive campaign designed to build on that momentum,” said Taylor Bickford, spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska.

A Public Policy Polling survey released Feb. 5 found that 55 percent of Alaskans surveyed in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, with 39 percent against.

The initiative faces opposition from Smart Approaches to Marijuana, founded by former Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy shortly after the Colorado and Washington measures were approved.

The organization announced Wednesday that it has formed an alliance with the Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians to oppose efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in Alaska and Oregon.

“We stand with SAM in support of their principles. We cannot deny that marijuana legalization will have a devastating impact on our communities — and we want none of it,” said Simon Lee Sampson of the Yakama Nation and the Community Safety Network of Toppenish in a statement.