Jason Brandeis


For the past forty years, Alaska has had one of the most unique marijuana laws in the United States. Under the Ravin Doctrine, adults in Alaska could use and possess a small amount of marijuana in their homes for any personal purpose. That common law rule, grounded in the Alaska Constitution's explicit right of privacy, was effectively codified in November 2014 when Alaska voters approved Ballot Measure 2: "An act to tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana." Measure 2 ushered in a new era of marijuana regulation, adding Alaska to the short list of states that permit the retail sale and use of recreational marijuana. This Article begins a discussion of this next phase of marijuana regulation in Alaska. The Article starts with a brief history of Alaska marijuana law prior to Measure 2, then summarizes the adoption and implementation of the ballot measure, including listing the marijuana-related activities now permitted, reviewing the ongoing process of developing a statewide regulatory framework, and describing the federal government's response to state-level marijuana legalization. The Article concludes with an analysis of the relationship between Measure 2 and the Ravin Doctrine, identifying new issues raised by the process of ballot initiative-led statutory legalization and finding that although Measure 2 did not clear up all of the previous grey areas surrounding marijuana regulation in Alaska, it was a significant step towards reconciling the Ravin Doctrine with Alaska's criminal marijuana laws.

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