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Weed is now legal in another US state

Alaska joins Colorado and Washington State in the cannabis club.

 Peter Lomonaco (L) and Charlo Greene of the Alaska Cannabis Club light a joint in Anchorage.
Peter Lomonaco (L) and Charlo Greene of the Alaska Cannabis Club light a joint in Anchorage.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

ALASKA HAS BECOME the third US state to legalise the recreational use of marijuana.

Campaigners don’t expect any public celebrations though since it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public.

In the state’s largest city, Anchorage police officers are ready to start handing out $100 fines to make sure taking a toke remains something to be done behind closed doors.

A coalition including libertarians, rugged individualists and small-government Republicans all wanted Alaska in the same category as Washington state and Colorado with legal marijuana. This is not yet the reality.

In November, Alaskans voted 53%-47 % to legalize marijuana use by adults in private places. But the deinfttion of ‘private places’ is being left up to lawmakers to decide

How did this happen?

After November’s vote, possession and transportation of up to an ounce of marijuana, and growing up to six plants is legal as of today.

The state has nine more months to create regulations for a commercial marijuana industry whose pot will be sold and taxed.

But wasn’t it already legal in Alaska?

Yes and no. A 1975 Alaska Supreme Court decision protected residents with small amounts of pot in their homes from prosecution. But state lawmakers twice criminalised any possession at all.

Where can Alaskans buy it?

They can’t, legally, and won’t be able to, for months to come. Retail sales likely won’t begin until May 2016, some lawmakers are pushing for further delays.

Alaska Marijuana Charlo Greene at the medical marijuana dispensary. Source: AP/Press Association Images

But can they get it?

With some green fingers yes, or through a good friend. The law allows people to keep all the marijuana produced by as many as six plants, and to give it away without state penalty.

Who makes the rules?

The Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is responsible for regulations for now, but with pot already legal to grow, have and use, some lawmakers seemed a bit dazed and confused about next steps.

Local control

Despite Alaska’s constitutionally protected privacy rights, many communities ban alcohol even inside private homes. Some worry the initiative will bring marijuana in where alcohol has been kept out.

Where can they smoke it?

Not in “public,” but what that does that mean? Some state laws define it as schools, parks, prisons, businesses, and in general, anywhere accessible to “the public or a substantial group of persons.” But jurisdictions are already disagreeing on the definition when it comes to marijuana.

Can Alaskans bring it in from other states?

Marijuana is already legal in Washington state and Colorado and will be July 1 in Oregon. Supporters are taking aim now at California, Arizona, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts. But getting drugs to Alaska almost always requires federally-regulated transportation or shipment, so that means growing it at home for now.

Read: Reporter quits job live on air after revealing herself to be a marijuana activist >

Read: Girl Scout sets up outside a marijuana clinic, sells hundreds of cookies in the process >

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Associated Press

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