Marijuana

FAIRBANKS — The Alaska Senate joined the state House of Representatives on Tuesday in supporting a joint resolution urging the federal government to respect Alaska’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana use. 

House Joint Resolution 21 was sponsored by Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks, but quickly gained the support of other legislators interested in maintaining states’ rights. 

Guttenberg said the decision should be left up to the voters, stating that not doing so would be a matter of federal overreach. 

“The people of Alaska have spoken on this issue time and time again. Alaskans overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalization in 2014, and since then we have seen a thriving new industry that has created thousands of jobs and generated millions in tax revenue,” Guttenberg said. “The federal government needs to respect this and not work against it.”

The Senate unanimously passed the resolution Wednesday 20-0. The House voted to pass the resolution 38-0 last month. After a concurrence vote, the resolution will be sent to Gov. Bill Walker. He has expressed support of the state marijuana industry in the past as a matter of states’ rights.

The House voted Sunday to approve a bill that would limit access to past criminal records relating to simple charges of marijuana possession. 

In response to voter approval of legal marijuana in 2014, the bill would limit public access to records of marijuana possession in an effort to allow those with past charges to obtain and retain employment that may otherwise be limited.

House Bill 316 was introduced by Rep. Harriet Drummond, D-Anchorage.

“This bill is not a ‘get out of jail’ card; it’s a reasonable approach to allow Alaskans to get jobs currently unavailable to them because they did something that Alaskans have voted repeatedly they believe should be entirely legal,” Drummond said. “This bill does not benefit drug dealers. Rather, it helps mothers and fathers clear their names from past mistakes, allows many of our friends and neighbors to apply for jobs they didn’t think they could ever get, and strengthens communities by providing new opportunities for those who continue to be held back by something that is no longer against the rules.”

The bill was passed by a vote of 30-10 and now sits with the Senate for consideration. 

Contact staff writer Erin Granger at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMPolitics.