Mason Tvert

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Nevada: Marijuana Legalization Will Appear On November 2016 Ballot

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Citizen-initiated ballot measure would end marijuana prohibition in Nevada and establish a legal marijuana market for adults 21 and older

The Nevada Legislature is expected to let voters decide in November 2016 whether to end marijuana prohibition and regulate marijuana like alcohol.

State lawmakers have until Saturday, March 14 to enact Initiative Petition No. 1, but chose to adjourn Friday without voting on it. They were tasked with considering the measure after supporters submitted nearly twice the number of signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

“Voters will have the opportunity to end marijuana prohibition next year and replace it with a policy that actually makes sense,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Regulating marijuana like alcohol will make Nevada safer by replacing the underground marijuana market with a tightly controlled system of licensed businesses.

"Law enforcement officials will be able to spend their time addressing more serious crimes, and adults will no longer be punished simply for using marijuana,” Tvert said.

The initiative makes private possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older. It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public or drive while impaired by marijuana.

Colorado: Marijuana Regulation Supporters Call For Resignation of 6 Sheriffs Who Want To Force Cannabis Back Underground

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Supporters of marijuana regulation in Colorado are calling for the resignation of the six Colorado sheriffs who filed a federal lawsuit Thursday intended to force Colorado marijuana production and sales back into the underground market.

According to news reports, the sheriffs claim they are experiencing a “crisis of conscience” because they believe federal marijuana laws prohibit them from enforcing state marijuana laws. However, the U.S. Controlled Substances Act includes a provision that clearly states is not intended to preempt state laws, and it specifically authorizes states to pursue their own marijuana laws.

The sheriffs listed as plaintiffs in the suit are Justin E. Smith of Larimer County, Chad Day of Yuma County, Shayne Heap of Elbert County, Ronald B. Bruce of Hinsdale County, Casey Sheridan of Kiowa County, and Frederick D. McKee of Delta County.

Legalization advocates, including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), point to the many positive benefits of legalization, including that it has reduced the burden on law enforcement within the state, citing the fact that marijuana possession arrests have dropped 84 percent in Colorado since 2010. Colorado is also experiencing significant benefits, including a decreasing unemployment rate, more than $50 million in tax revenue in FY 2014-15, and reduced rates of burglary and homicide.

Colorado: MPP Calls For Boycott of Holiday Inn After Hotel Operator Files Federal Lawsuit To Shut Down Marijuana Legalization

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Suit filed Thursday by New Vision Hotels Two, LLC claims its Frisco Holiday Inn location — which sells alcohol, a more harmful substance than marijuana — would lose business if a state-licensed marijuana retail store opens across the street

If you enjoy legal cannabis, you may want to avoid giving your business to Holiday Inn.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) on Friday called for a nationwide boycott of Holiday Inn after a hotel operator in Colorado filed a federal lawsuit intended to shut down the state’s marijuana regulatory system.

New Vision Hotels Two, LLC is the primary plaintiff in a suit filed Thursday that claims its Frisco Holiday Inn location would lose business if a state-licensed marijuana retail store opens nearby. The operators of the hotel, which sells alcohol — a more harmful substance than marijuana — on its premises, say the presence of a marijuana business will hurt the hotel’s image and deter visitors.

In messages to its approximately 200,000 email subscribers and 414,000 combined followers on Facebook and Twitter, MPP urged supporters of legalizing and regulating marijuana to stop staying at Holiday Inn hotels until the lawsuit is dropped. It also launched a Change.org petition targeting New Vision Hotels and Holiday Inn’s parent company, InterContinental Hotels Group.

The petition is online at http://chn.ge/1w4Fqls.

U.S.: Acting Drug Czar Agrees Congress Shouldn't Interfere In DC Marijuana Legalization

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In response to a question from a Marijuana Policy Project staffer, Michael Botticelli — whom the U.S. Senate is expected to confirm Monday as the next director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) — said he supports the Administration’s current policy of allowing states to regulate marijuana for adult and/or medical use.

During an event hosted on Friday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, acting U.S. Drug Czar Botticelli said he agrees Congress should not interfere in the District of Columbia’s decision to make marijuana legal for adults.

In response to a question from MPP Federal Policies Director Dan Riffle, Botticelli said: “The President, as it relates to the District, I think was very clear that the District should stick to its home rule. As a resident of the District, I might not agree about legalization, but I do agree with our own ability to spend our own money the way that we want to do that.”

The U.S. Senate is expected to confirm Botticelli on Monday as the next director of the White House ONDCP. He received unanimous approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Also on Monday, the Council of the District of Columbia is scheduled to hold a joint committee hearing on a bill that would regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol in the nation’s capital. It will begin at 10 a.m. ET in the John A. Wilson Building, Room 500 (1350 Pennsylvania Ave., NW).

U.S.: Teen Marijuana Use Down After Legalization, National Survey Finds

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A national survey released on Tuesday found teen marijuana usage rates decreased from 2013 to 2014 — a period marked by heightened national debate regarding marijuana policy and implementation of the nation’s first marijuana legalization laws.

According to the annual Monitoring the Future Survey, sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), rates of annual, monthly, and daily marijuana use dropped among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders. More details are available in the researchers’ press release at http://www.monitoringthefuture.org//pressreleases/14drugpr_complete.pdf.

Teens’ perception of ‘great risk’ in marijuana use also decreased among students in all three grades, contradicting the often-heard claim that public dialogue about the benefits of ending marijuana prohibition — including discussion of the relative safety of marijuana compared to alcohol and other substances — will result in more teens using marijuana.

In August, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among the state’s high school students has dropped since marijuana became legal for adults. More information is available at http://mppne.ws/1BSbM17.

“The survey’s findings and recent polls demonstrate that Americans of all ages are wising up when it comes to marijuana," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Support for ending marijuana prohibition is growing among adults, and marijuana use is dropping among teens.

North America: Shoe's On The Other Foot - US Weed Now Being Smuggled Into Mexico

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

An an interesting case of role reversal, marijuana grown in the United States is increasingly being smuggled into Mexico, according to the DEA.

At one time, Mexico supplied the vast majority of cannabis found in the U.S., but that has changed due to more weed being cultivated north of the border. The high quality of American weed is catching the attention of Mexico drug cartels, reports RT.com.

American marijuana, typically with potency between 10 and 25 percent THC, is, on the average, noticeably stronger than Mexican weed, which averages 3 to 8 percent. American weed, meanwhile, typically sells for three to four times as much as Mexican product.

"I believe that now, because of the changes they're having to make because of marijuana legalization in the U.S., the cartel is pushing more cocaine, meth and heroin. They're diversifying," journalist Javier Valdez told NPR.

"It makes sense," said Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Lawrence Payne, reports National Public Radio. "We know the cartels are already smuggling cash into Mexico. If you can buy some really high-quality weed here, why not smuggle it south, too, and sell it at a premium?"

U.S.: New Billboards Urge Parents To Keep Marijuana Out of Reach of Children

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Latest ‘Consume Responsibly’ ads feature a young child looking at a glass of wine and cookies, and it reads: ‘Some juices and cookies are not for kids: Keep “adult snacks” locked up and out of reach’

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is launching billboards this week in Denver and Seattle that encourage parents to keep marijuana out of reach of children. The ads are part of a broader public education campaign urging adults to “consume responsibly” in states where marijuana is legal.

The billboards feature a child looking at what could be a glass of grape juice or a stemless glass of wine and a few cookies that might or might not be infused with marijuana. It reads, “Some juices and cookies are not meant for kids,” and urges them to, “Keep ‘adult snacks’ locked up and out of reach.”

MPP spokesperson Mason Tvert was accompanied at the Monday unveiling of the billboard by Jane West, a marijuana consumer and mother of two small children, who serves as director of Women Grow, a national organization dedicated to helping women influence and succeed in the cannabis industry.

“We need to treat marijuana like any other product that is legal for adults and not meant for children,” West said. “A marijuana-infused cookie might look like a regular cookie to my four-year-old, just as a glass of wine might look just like grape juice. Whether it’s marijuana, alcohol, or household cleaning products, it’s our job as parents to keep them locked up and out of reach.”

U.S.: FBI Reports 693,000 Arrests For Marijuana Offenses In 2013

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More than 87% were for simple possession

An estimated 693,481 arrests were made nationwide for marijuana in 2013, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s annual Uniform Crime Report. More than 87 percent of these arrests were for possession, which means one person was arrested for marijuana possession approximately every 51 seconds on average in the United States.

The same report last year showed that 749,842 marijuana arrests were made in 2012.

“We're pleased to see the drop, but arresting even one adult for using a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol is inexcusable," said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Every year we see millions of violent crimes attributed to alcohol, and the evidence is clear that marijuana is not a significant contributing factor in such incidents. Yet our laws continue to steer adults toward drinking by threatening to punish them if they make the safer choice. These arrest numbers demonstrate that the threat is very real.

"Law enforcement officials should be spending their time and resources addressing serious crimes, not arresting and prosecuting adults for using marijuana," Tvert said. "Every year, these statistics show hundreds of thousands of marijuana-related arrests are taking place and countless violent crimes are going unsolved. We have to wonder how many of those crimes could be solved — or prevented — if police weren't wasting their time enforcing failed marijuana prohibition laws.

U.S.: States, Cities and Nation's Capital To Vote On Marijuana Policy Ballot Measures Tuesday

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Alaska and Oregon could make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it like alcohol; Washington, D.C. and two of Maine’s largest cities could make marijuana legal for adults; Florida could become 24th state to allow seriously ill people to access medical marijuana

States, cities, and the nation’s capital will vote on marijuana policy ballot measures on Tuesday.

“From Alaska to Maine, there is a whole lot of enthusiasm for ending marijuana prohibition,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “It’s not easy to overcome 80 years of prohibition and anti-marijuana propaganda. But public attitudes are clearly shifting on this issue, and it’s only a matter of time before that is reflected in laws nationwide.”

In Alaska and Oregon, voters are considering statewide ballot measures that would make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. The initiatives — Ballot Measure 2 in Alaska and Measure 91 in Oregon — would remove all legal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older.

The measures would also establish a regulatory framework for licensed businesses to cultivate, process, test, and sell marijuana to adults. If the initiatives are approved, Alaska and Oregon would be the third and fourth states to end marijuana prohibition.

Colorado: Marijuana Policy Project Launches 'Consume Responsibly' Campaign

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The Marijuana Policy Project on Wednesday launched the first-ever comprehensive public education campaign urging adults to “consume responsibly” in states where marijuana is legal. The campaign is being launched in Colorado and will be exported to Washington and then other states as they adopt similar laws.

MPP will kick off the campaign with a news conference at noon Mountain Time Wednesday in front of its first paid ad, a billboard at 816 Federal Boulevard in Denver that warns tourists, “Don’t let a candy bar ruin your vacation.” It also encourages them to start with a low dose of THC and go slow when consuming edible marijuana products, which can take up to two hours to feel the effect.

The billboard features a distressed woman in a dark hotel room, alluding to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s now-infamous June column detailing her over-consumption of a marijuana-infused candy bar in her Denver hotel room.

The billboard directs people to the campaign’s website — http://wwww.ConsumeResponsibly.org — which features detailed information about marijuana products, their effects, and the laws surrounding them. It also addresses issues such as preventing and responding to over-consumption and accidental consumption. The Consume Responsibly campaign will initially include print and online ads, as well as materials in retail marijuana stores.

Colorado: Recreational Marijuana Passes Medical Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Retail recreational marijuana sales, for the first time, passed medical marijuana sales in Colorado in July.

Recreational pot sales had lagged behind medical sales since the legal marijuana shops created by legalization measure Amendment 64 opened on January 1, reports Katy Steinmetz at Time. But according to tax figures from the Colorado Department of Revenue, recreational has pulled into the lead.

During July, Colorado got $838,711 from a 2.9 percent tax on medical marijuana, meaning patients spent about $28.9 million at dispensaries. Meanwhile, the state took in $2.97 million from a 10 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana, putting those sales at about $29.7 million, according to Ricardo Baca at The Cannabist.

The margin, though less than $1 million, represents a victory of sorts for advocates of recreational legalization, who have argued it will be profitable for the state.

"Most adults use marijuana for the same reasons they use alcohol," said Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "Now that it's a legal product, they are choosing to access it in a similar fashion."

Colorado: Teen Marijuana Use Down Since Legalization

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Rates of current and lifetime marijuana use among Colorado high school students has dropped since the state's voters made marijuana legal in 2012, according to a Thursday press release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“Thirty-day marijuana use fell from 22 percent in 2011 to 20 percent in 2013, and lifetime use declined from 39 percent to 37 percent during the same two years,” according to the release. It has dropped nearly five points since 2009 (24.8 percent), when hundreds of medical marijuana stores began opening throughout Colorado.

The state began regulating medical marijuana in 2010. The CDPHE release says the drop from 2011 to 2013 is not statistically significant, but it appears the drop from 2009 to 2013 could be. In either case, it is clear that use among high school students has not increased.

Nationwide, the rate of current teen marijuana use increased from 20.8 percent in 2009 to 23.1 percent in 2011 and 23.4 percent in 2013, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS). The national rate of lifetime use increased from 36.8 percent in 2009 to 39.9 percent in 2011 and 40.7 percent in 2013.

Colorado: Brookings Institution Says State Is Successfully Regulating Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado is successfully regulating marijuana, according to a report released on Thursday by the Brookings Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management.

“The state has met challenging statutory and constitutional deadlines for the construction and launch of a legal, regulatory, and tax apparatus for its new policy,” according to the report authored by John Hudak, a Brookings fellow in Governance Studies. “In doing so, it has made intelligent decisions about regulatory needs, the structure of distribution, prevention of illegal diversion, and other vital aspects of its new market. It has made those decisions in concert with a wide variety of stakeholders in the state.”

“This report reflects what is actually happening on the ground here in Colorado," said Mason Tvert, the Denver-based director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) who co-directed the 2012 Colorado initiative campaign. "The state is proving that regulating marijuana works. It explains why the new law is experiencing just as much public support now as it did when voters approved it in 2012.

Massachusetts: Group Plans 2016 Bid For Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Marijuana Policy Project is setting the stage for a 2016 marijuana legalization campaign in Massachusetts.

MPP, the Washington, D.C.-based group that organized and financed Colorado's Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in that state, has opened a ballot committee with Massachusetts campaign finance regulators, reports Paul McMorrow at CommonWealth.

Executive Director Rob Kampia opened a ballot referendum committee with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance on Tuesday. The committee, called the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts, allows MPP to begin raising and spending money in the state.

MPP plans to put a cannabis legalization question on the ballot for the Presidential election year; it also plans on waging 2016 legalization campaigns in Arizona, California, Maine, Montana and Nevada. Alaska will vote on legalization in August, and Oregon will vote either this year or in 2016.

The Marijuana Policy Project spent $2 million in Colorado getting Amendment 64 approved; it passed by 10 percentage points, running more than five points ahead of President Obama in the state.

"We're going to be spending the next year working to build a coalition," said Mason Tvert, MPP's director of communications. "We really want to replicate the Colorado process, and not just the winning part.

U.S.: Federal Survey Dispels Myth That Rolling Back Prohibition Increases Teen Marijuana Use

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Biennial CDC survey finds rate of current marijuana use among U.S. high school students remained flat despite state marijuana policy reforms and significant increase in public support for making marijuana legal

Continued decline in teens’ use of alcohol and cigarettes suggests regulating marijuana could be more effective at preventing teen use than current prohibition policies

A biennial federal government survey released on Thursday dispels the myth that rolling back marijuana prohibition laws will lead to an increase in teen marijuana use.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found the rate of current marijuana use among U.S. high school students remained flat from 2011 to 2013. During that period of time, voters in Colorado and Washington adopted and implemented laws making marijuana legal for adults; state legislatures in Rhode Island and Vermont approved and implemented laws decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana; and national polls showed significant increases in public support for ending marijuana prohibition.

“This debunks the theory that openly discussing the benefits of legalizing marijuana for adults will result in more teen use,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “The public dialogue surrounding marijuana is more balanced and honest than ever before. We should be encouraging teens to take part in it, not shielding them from it.”

Colorado: Governor's Mansion Gets Draft Beer System; Marijuana Activist Holds Toga Protest

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Colorado marijuana activist Mason Tvert, unhappy that the Governor's Mansion recently installed a draft beer system, put on his toga Friday afternoon and held a protest "toga party" outside Gov. John Hickenlooper's official residence.

The draft beer system, which was finished just in time for a private beer party at the mansion Friday night, was paid for by private donors, reports Ryan Parker at The Denver Post. The system has three taps that feature rotating Colorado-made beers.

Tvert, wearing a sheet, appeared behind a podium with a "Colorado Governor's Mansion" sign with "Governor's Mansion" crossed out and replaced with "Delta House," a reference to the 1970s fraternity party movie Animal House. He called the new beer system "home-brewed hypocrisy."

Tvert, the director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, said he showed up in a toga because Gov. Hickenlooper is "turning the governor's mansion into a fraternity house."

"This is just another example of the pro-alcohol, anti-marijuana culture," said a toga-clad Tvert.

While others attended the protest, Tvert was the only one wearing a toga.

Gov. Hickenlooper co-founded a downtown pub in the late 1980s, and frequently mentions his fondness for Colorado beers.

"He should be ashamed," Tvert said. "It's a hypocritical message."

Gov. Hickenlooper's spokesman, Eric Brown, took a light-hearted view of the protest.

U.S.: New Pro-Marijuana Billboards To Go Up Around Super Bowl Responding To New Anti-Pot Billboard


The billboard posted by Patrick Kennedy's group, "Smart Approaches to Marijuana" (SAM)


The spoof response billboard from the Marijuana Policy Project

One ad spoofs the billboard posted by the former congressman’s organization, Smart Approaches to Marijuana; a second new ad quotes Kennedy saying he agrees with President Obama that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, then reads, ‘Prohibiting adults from making the safer choice is NOT a smart approach’

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) will launch two new billboards Thursday night near MetLife stadium, where the Super Bowl will be played on Sunday, in response to the anti-marijuana billboard posted yesterday by Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group led by Patrick Kennedy that is working to keep marijuana illegal. Images of SAM’s billboard and MPP’s new billboards are attached and available at http://www.mpp.org/SuperBowl.

One of the new ads is a spoof of the SAM billboard. The original SAM billboard features a football player under the text, “Motivation, Perseverance, Determination,” and a marijuana leaf under the text, “None of the Above.” It also reads: “Marijuana kills your drive. Don’t lose in the game of life.”

New Jersey: Marijuana Billboards Surrounding Super Bowl Highlight NFL Hypocrisy

Broncos- and Seahawks-themed ads feature players asking why the league punishes them for using a substance that is ‘less harmful to [their] bodies than alcohol;’ two additional ads say marijuana is also less dangerous than playing professional football

Five billboards highlighting the hypocrisy of the National Football League’s marijuana policy were launched Tuesday in locations surrounding MetLife Stadium, where the Super Bowl is scheduled to be played Sunday. Images of the billboards, which were paid for by the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.mpp.org/SuperBowl.

Two 60-foot-wide digital billboards feature images of football players and read: “Marijuana is less harmful to our bodies than alcohol. Why does the league punish us for making the safer choice?” The color schemes of the ads reflect the teams competing in this year’s Super Bowl, both of which hail from states that have legalized marijuana for adults.

“Marijuana is less toxic, less addictive, and less harmful to the body than alcohol,” said MPP Director of Communications Mason Tvert. “Why would the NFL want to steer its players toward drinking and away from making the safer choice to use marijuana instead?

"If it is okay for athletes to douse each other with champagne in front of the cameras, it should be okay for them to use marijuana privately in their homes,” Tvert said.

Massachusetts: Advocates Lay Groundwork For Marijuana Legalization

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Marijuana advocates are laying the groundwork for legalization in Massachusetts in 2016, the next presidential election year.

State voters approved decriminalization of small amounts of cannabis in 2008, and legalized its use for medicinal purposes in 2012, both with more than 63 percent support, reports Joshua Miller at the Boston Globe. advocates have launched an effort to get legalization on the 2016 ballot, and to raise enough money to ensure victory.

But some say Massachusetts' strong traditions will make legal marijuana a tough sell.

"To make it available for recreational use, that's going over a very different barrier," said state Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst), explaining it was easy for her to support decrim and medical marijuana, but not legalization. "I'm not sure people in the state are ready for that and I'm certainly not sure I'm ready for that."

But the tides of public opinion are shifting on cannabis.

"Opinion is changing very quickly on marijuana," said Steve Koczela, president of MassINC Polling Group. The rapid change, he said, "mirrors, in some ways, the same-sex marriage shift that's taken place over the last few years."

Alaska: Marijuana Legalization Backers Turn In Signatures For August Ballot

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A group which advocates legalizing marijuana said on Wednesday they've turned in more than enough signatures to qualify for an August ballot vote.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana in Alaska turned in more than 46,000 signatures, about 50 percent more than the roughly 30,000 needed, reports Niraj Chokshi at The Washington Post. If the Alaska Division of Elections approves the signatures, ballot language will be prepared.

The sponsors of the legalization initiative, modeled on Colorado's Amendment 64, said the next step will be to spread the word and garner support. "We'll be taking our message to the voters in lots of different ways," said Tim Hinterberger, one of the measure's three sponsors and a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage's School of Medical Education.

"It's clear to everyone that prohibition is a failed policy," Hinterberger said. "The proposed initiative will take marijuana sales out of the underground market and put them in legitimate, taxpaying businesses."

"Replacing marijuana prohibition with a system of taxation and sensible regulation will bolster Alaska's economy by creating jobs and generating revenue for the state," Hinterberger said, reports Faith Karmi at CNN.

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