- Associated Press - Monday, January 13, 2014

Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:

Jan. 10, 2014

Ketchikan Daily News: The pot problem

Alaska can do better than Colorado and Washington state.

Both states legalized marijuana not simply for medicinal purposes: It’s a commercial enterprise for recreational use.

It’s also been a butt of jokes and editorial cartoons; it’s damaged the two states’ reputations.

Alaska doesn’t want to be viewed as a pot state; such a reputation won’t enhance the state at all.

Despite that, a citizens’ group, largely funded by Outside interests, has submitted more than 46,000 signatures to the state election office in hopes of placing a marijuana initiative on the ballot. The group needs 30,000 valid signatures or 7 percent of the voters in at least 30 House districts. The signatures will be checked to ensure they’re from qualified voters.

Current state law allows private possession of a small amount of marijuana. The initiative, if passed, would allow Alaskans over the age of 21 to keep up to one ounce of marijuana and to possess up to six plants, including three flowering.

But it also would legalize the sale of marijuana and marijuana accessories in licensed shops.

Washington Post Writers Group columnist Ruth Marcus wrote recently that the problem with legalizing marijuana is that it is a dangerous drug and as such is a public health concern. She quoted the American Medical Association, which seems like a fairly reliable source on this matter. Undoubtedly, doctors see the results of marijuana use in clinics and hospital emergency rooms.

The AMA identifies marijuana as the most common drug involved in “drugged driving,” and points out that it is a gateway drug to other substance-use disorders. The AMA says that in youth in particular, it causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ, and its use is associated with increased rates of anxiety, mood and psychotic-thought disorders, according to Marcus.

With all of Alaska’s efforts to improve the lives of Alaskans, especially its youth - particularly when it comes to education funding - the last thing the state needs is to be dumbing down its people. Marijuana made more accessible and commercially sold will increase the likelihood of young Alaskans’ brains and behavior being short-changed before they are fully developed. It also will increase the cost of state government, with the likelihood of oversight responsibilities.

A marijuana initiative will increase health care and government costs. Even in the best of economic times, that’s not fiscally responsible.


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