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Alaskans Vote On Legalization of Marijuana

Voters were asked Tuesday if they wanted to make Alaska (searchthe first state to legalize the use and sale of marijuana (search).

Ballot Measure 2 (search) proposes trading prohibition for state regulation, much as the state regulates alcohol, and taxing its sales.

Advocates contended it is a logical alternative to expensive and unsuccessful enforcement of current marijuana laws.

Opponents argued it would put children at risk and complicate liability issues for employers.

Alaskans have a varied history with marijuana. In 1975, a state Supreme Court decision made it legal to possess small quantities in the privacy of a home.

In 1990, voters chose to make possession a crime, a law that stayed in place until last year when the state Court of Appeals ruled that Alaskans had the right to possess up to four ounces of pot in their homes for personal use.

Marijuana advocates in 1998 used the initiative process to win passage of a medical marijuana law.

Advocates of the Ballot Measure 2 had to sue Lt. Gov. Loren Leman — the state's head of the Division of Elections — to accept required signatures on their petitions. They sued him again this month after it was revealed that his chief of staff had written the opposition statement in the state's Official Election Pamphlet.

An Anchorage Superior Court judge ruled that Leman's staff wrongly drafted the statement of opposition, but no further action was warranted because, in part, a physician had taken authorship of the statement.

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