Even two years ago if someone had told me the Alaska Republican Committee would come out in favor of legalizing marijuana, I would have suspected they were several joints short of holding a full ounce. However, in the final stages before the November 4 elections that’s exactly what happened. Not only that, but a number of former and current law enforcement officials did the same thing. Support for marijuana legalization moved out of the darkened rooms with Cheech and Chong posters and the smoky basements with grow lights to be broadcast in the light of day by respectable, admired, public leaders. Wow. (Guess that should be, “Oh… wooow… maaannn…”)
The support worked. Ballot Measure Number 2, An Act to Tax and Regulate the Production, Sale, and Use of Marijuana passed. Marijuana is legal in Alaska, or will be at some point… we don’t know when exactly. In around nine months, maybe a year, who knows?
|Proponents of Prop. 2 celebrating|
While proponents are ready to charge out and torch up a fatty in wild celebration, they need to keep in mind the law doesn’t allow public use. That’s right: you can open those dark curtains and grow the stuff openly in your living room window, but don’t take your roll for a stroll because you’ll be fined. We don’t know how much, or how severely, but you’ll be in trouble. Who knows how much? Maybe you’ll get fined $10, maybe $150, maybe you’ll get a time out with a stern scolding.
Here’s how things are supposed to shake down. The Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board will implement the bill and be responsible for regulation. Of course, that’s only if the State Legislature doesn’t decide to bypass the ABC Board and create a new bureaucratic entity in the form of the Marijuana Control Board (MCB).
Expecting the Legislature to sit out an opportunity to create another department to oversee, even if the ABC Board is willing to undertake massive additional responsibilities, is unrealistic. And that’s where I expect to see the actual enactment of marijuana legalization coming to an abrupt halt before proceeding.
The MCB would be in charge of all things weedy: licensing sellers, approving growers, taxing and even ensuring suitable product. From the very start, until the very last details are ironed out, it’s going to be a long tote (or toke, depending on your position).
First off, there’s going to be the great debate on what, exactly, the Director of the Marijuana Control Board should be titled. I’m sure Marijuana Czar will be bandied about, but I’m sure things will get more creative. Why not the Poobah of Pot? How about the Doobie Director? What about the Highness of Hookahs? Cannabis King? Wizard of Weed? Bong Boss? Pharaoh of Fatties? The choices are seemingly limitless and guaranteed to be debated at length. No matter, eventually a legislative committee will be formed to handle all the details. The story will be something those in the media fight competitively to cover.
It’s not hard to imagine a massive assemblage of reporters waiting impatiently outside the door of the room where the Legislative Implementation of Marijuana Production, Distribution, Inspection and Control Committee (better known as LIMPDICC) is meeting. After hours and hours of staring at a closed door, during which the only signs of life from within have been several exchanges of crumpled twenty-dollar bills with pizza delivery guys, the committee chairman slips into the hall. His eyes are red and droopy from the long meeting, and he gives the reporters flooding toward him a stony gaze as they shout out a staccato of questions.
“Senator! Senator! Has the committee come to a consensus?”
“Senator! Will the tax remain $50 an ounce?”
“Senator! Does the committee have any ideas for director?”
“Senator! How will quality be assured?”
The Senator waves the crowding media to silence. “Dude! I’m like… you know… it’s a long, complicated process. I’m ummm… just going to get some peanut butter cheese crackers. We’re like, you know, hungry but tired of pizza, maaannn.”
Oh! How I love Alaskan politics! It always keeps things edgy, if not outright comical.
P.S. - If you didn’t find this funny, maybe you should try lighting one up and re-reading it. (But only if you're in Alaska.)