Alaska Makes Recreational Marijuana Legal

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Alaska has become the third US state to legalise the recreational use of marijuana, but it remains illegal to smoke pot in public.

Washington state and Colorado already allow the recreational use of marijuana.

The 53-47% vote in Alaska last November allowed for the legalisation of marijuana use by adults in private places.

Adult Alaskans can keep and use pot, transport, grow it and give it away. A second phase, creating a regulated and taxed marijuana market, will start in 2016 or later.

The initiative bans smoking in public, but did not define what that means. A regulatory board plans to meet later on Tuesday to discuss the issue.

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

But far to the north, in North Pole, smoking outdoors on private property will be allowed as long as it does not create a nuisance, officials there said.

Meanwhile, Alaska Native leaders worry that legalisation will bring new temptations to communities already confronting high rates of drug and alcohol abuse.

Alaska’s relationship with marijuana has a long and somewhat confused history.

In 1975, an Alaska Supreme Court decision protected personal marijuana possession and a 1998 initiative legalised medicinal marijuana, but state lawmakers twice criminalised any possession over the years, creating an odd legal limbo.

Oregon will be next to legalise recreational pot, with its law going into effect in July.

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