House Passes Resolution Urging Federal Government To Back Off Alaska Marijuana Industry

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The Alaska House of Representatives passed a joint resolution Monday urging the federal government to respect state’s rights and continue to allow Alaska to manage its legal marijuana industry.

House Joint Resolution 21, sponsored by Fairbanks Democratic Rep. David Guttenberg, passed unanimously during a House floor session. The resolution had six co-sponsors, all Democrats.

Guttenberg noted the choice to legalize marijuana was the choice of Alaska voters and should remain so.

“Marijuana has essentially been legal in Alaska for decades, but in 2014 the people of Alaska voted to make it fully legal by allowing it to be grown and sold recreationally,” Guttenberg said in a statement Monday. “We now have thriving businesses that are contributing to the local and state tax base despite the daily fear that the federal government will overstep their authority by trying to shut them down.”

Guttenberg said he believes the regulation of marijuana should be left to the state.

“The U.S. attorney general, working under the authority of President Trump, seems to think he knows better than the people of Alaska, the Alaska Legislature and the Alaska governor about what is best for our state,” Guttenberg said. “Passage of this resolution sends a strong statement that we will not tolerate this new form of federal overreach.”

The resolution also encourages the federal government to reconsider the listing of marijuana as a Schedule One controlled substance. Other substances labeled as such include heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

The push for states’ rights regarding the legal marijuana industry took full form after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum, a federal policy put into place under President Barack Obama that added a level of separation between federal and state marijuana policies. The policy advised federal prosecutors to avoid prosecuting marijuana offenses in states where the substance was legalized, including Alaska, Washington and Colorado.

Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young opposed changing the policy, advocating for states’ rights regarding managing a legal industry.

The House resolution now goes to the state Senate for consideration.