Lawmaker voices concern over unintended consequences of legalized marijuana

  • By Becky Bohrer
  • Thursday, February 20, 2014 9:37pm
  • News

JUNEAU — House majority members on Thursday were asked about the potential tax revenues for the state should voters approve an initiative this summer legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

Rep. Dan Saddler, R-Eagle River, acknowledged the potential for revenues. But he said legalizing pot could open the door to unintended consequences.

“I would encourage people to consider the social cost of allowing recreational marijuana use,” said Saddler, the only one of the four members at the news conference to respond to the question.

He said people can vote the way they want but should “think twice, think three times before considering whether letting that happen.”

Colorado’s governor, in a budget proposal Wednesday, estimated sales and excise taxes of nearly $100 million on marijuana next fiscal year, above the estimate of $70 million a year given to voters when they approved the tax. Colorado is one of two states that has legalized recreational use of marijuana. Washington is the other.

The Alaska initiative, scheduled to appear on the August primary ballot, would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and as many as six plants, including three that are flowering. It would not allow public consumption of weed. Anyone smoking in public would face a $100 fine.

The initiative would grant regulatory control to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and give the Legislature the option to create a marijuana control board. It also would establish an excise tax of $50 an ounce or a proportionate part on the sale or transfer of marijuana from a cultivation facility to a retail marijuana store or marijuana product manufacturing facility. The cultivation facility would pay the tax.

Taylor Bickford, a spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska, said the campaign hasn’t released any estimates on the potential amount of revenue the tax could generate but expects to.

“What we do know is that regulating marijuana like alcohol will bolster our economy, create jobs, and generate new revenue for Alaska,” he said by email. “Marijuana sales will be conducted by legitimate taxpaying businesses, instead of criminal enterprises in the underground market.”

Online:

State Division of Elections petition list: http://1.usa.gov/1f0l8d6

Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska: http://regulatemarijuanainalaska.org

More in News

The Seward welcome sign is photographed in July 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward vice mayor and council member resigns

The council accept the resignation of Tony Baclaan during its Monday night meeting.

Ben Mohr watches Kenai River Junior Classic participants head out to fish on the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Mohr resigns as director of KRSA

He has been the executive director of KRSA for nearly three years.

Heather and Hunter Phillips walk through the Kenai Community Library Haunted Hunt with their mom Kumi Phillips on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Scary reads

Spooky literary characters come to life at Kenai library haunted house.

Alaska state Rep. Laddie Shaw, an Anchorage Republican, waits for the start of a so-called technical session on the House floor, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. The fourth special legislative session of the year began Oct. 4, in Juneau, but there has been little action at the Capitol and little progress toward resolving Alaska’s fiscal issues. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
Special session plods on with little action

Many legislative offices have been dark and floor sessions in some cases have lasted seconds.

The Kenai Community Library health section is seen on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. After the Kenai City Council postponed a vote to approve a grant funding health and wellness books, community members set up a GoFundMe to support the purchase of materials. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
After cries of censorship, community raises funds for library

The Kenai City Council voted during its Oct. 20 meeting to postpone acceptance of a $1,500 grant for materials related to health and wellness.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
11 new deaths reported

Statewide there were 244 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Tuesday, with 37 of them on ventilators.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Young to face off with a Begich yet again

Young, 88, seemed unfazed by Begich’s entry into the race.

A remote galaxy captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is greatly magnified and distorted by the effects of gravitationally warped space. (Image via NASA)
Grant brings NASA to library

The grant supports science, technology, engineering, arts and math programming for patrons.

Most Read