Alaska Rep. Don Young speaks during an interview at the Juneau Empire on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.

Alaska Rep. Don Young speaks during an interview at the Juneau Empire on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018.

Rep. Don Young introduces bill to legalize cannabis

The bill has bipartisan support.

Alaska Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young has teamed up with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, to introduce a bill that would remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances, according to a press release from Young’s office.

“I am a passionate supporter of a states’ rights approach to cannabis policy,” Young states in the release. “For too long, the Federal government has stood in the way of states that have acted to set their own marijuana policy, and it is long past time Congress modernized these outdated laws.”

Alaska voters passed an initiative to legalize the cannabis industry in 2014. In Hawaii, only medicinal marijuana is legal.

Young is the co-founder of the bipartisan Cannabis Caucus in Congress. This bill he and Gabbard put forth is called “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019.”

According to the release, the bipartisan duo also introduced the Marijuana Data Collection Act of 2019 to launch a study on the effects of legalized cannabis use for medicinal and recreational marijuana purposes. Areas of focus would include state revenues, public health, criminal justice and employment.

[Controversial marijuana board appointee meets resistance in confirmation hearing]

Marijuana has been illegal at the federal level since the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970. However, possession of small amounts of marijuana has been legal in Alaska — off and on, since 1975 — after an Alaska Supreme Court decision in Ravin v. State. The landmark Alaska Supreme Court opinion cited the Alaska Constitution’s right to privacy clause as reasoning for Alaskans’ right to posess marijuana.

“Since Alaska legalized marijuana, I have heard from many constituents — including small business owners — who have been impacted by archaic Federal marijuana policy that criminalizes them for selling marijuana-derived products otherwise legal under state law. Additionally, our nation’s prisons are overcrowded with non-violent offenders who too frequently have their lives ruined by harmful and outdated policies.”

The likelihood of Congress ending the prohibition on cannabis is difficult to determine, though one thing is certain. Americans are fare more open to the idea of legal marijuana than they used to be. A 2018 Pew Research poll showed 62 percent of Americans saying marijuana use should be legal. A 2000 Pew Research poll showd only 31 percent of Americans favored cannabis legalization.

• Contact reporter Kevin Baird at 523-2258 or Follow him on Twitter at @alaska_kev.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 26

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Liana Wallace offers a water blessing during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Augustus G. Brown Swimming Pool on Friday following nearly a year of renovations. The pool is scheduled to reopen for public use on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Ribbon-cutting for Augustus G. Brown Swimming Pool a blessing for longtime users after 11-month renovation

Infrastructure upgrades, new locker rooms and student tile art in lobby greet visitors at ceremony.

The Alaska State Capitol in Juneau is seen on Friday, Feb. 23. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska Legislature plans March 12 vote on Gov. Dunleavy’s executive orders

Order giving governor full control of Alaska Marine Highway Operations board among six scheduled.

Brenda Josephson, a Haines resident, testifies in favor of a bill setting statewide standards for municipal property assessors during a state Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee hearing Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Statewide standards for municipal property assessments sought in bill by Juneau lawmaker

Some residents say legislation doesn’t go far enough, want limits on annual valuation increases.

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Feb. 26, 2004. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of March 2

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks Thursday, April 27, 2023, at a news conference in Juneau. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House considers constitutional guarantee for Permanent Fund dividend

The Alaska House of Representatives will vote as soon as Friday morning… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alexei Painter, director of Alaska’s Legislative Finance Division, presents an update of the state’s budget situation for the coming year to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Analysis: Balanced state budget next year can include a $1,535 PFD and $680 BSA increase

However, a “statutory” $3,688 PFD would result in a deficit of more than $1.2 billion, report says.

Most Read