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the way of states that have acted to set their own marijuana policy, and it is long past time Congress modernized these outdated laws.”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nation’s prisons are overcrowded with non-violent offenders who too frequently have their lives ruined by harmful and outdated policies.”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 kbaird@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alaska_kev.


More in News

Courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
The Arctic ringed seal is listed as a “threatened” subspecies of ringed seal under the Endangered Species Act.
Feds reject petition to delist Arctic ringed seals as threatened

Since 2013, three subspecies of ringed seal — the Arctic, Okhotsk and Baltic — have been listed as threatened.

Travelers arrive at the Juneau International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020, made up only about half of what the airport normally sees in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Centennial Hall, seen here on Tuesday, Nov. 24, is being used by the City and Borough of Juneau as an emergency facility during the coronavirus pandemic and will not host the annual Public Market which has taken place every weekend after Thanksgiving since 1983. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Want to buy Alaskan? Closed by pandemic, Public Market goes virtual

Normally throngs of Juneauites would be lined up around the block…

To capture the unexpected action- the unrepeatable moment- it should be instinctive.  In order to build the story you have to shoot the adjective.  In this photo the bald eagle had waited patiently for the right moment to pounce on an unsuspecting vole… the unexpected.  The best way to accomplish this is to master the art of the most difficult subject to photograph– birds in flight.  In order to do this you must learn your gear; it must become part of your muscle memory so you can concentrate on the story you are witnessing.  Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 150-600mm, shot at 600mm, ISO AUTO (1250), F6.3, 1/3200, Handheld. (Courtesy Photo / Heather Holt)
Focal Point: Great photos are just waiting in the wings

Learn to shoot the verb (and the bird).

Has it always been a police car. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire)
Police calls for Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020

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

Meals slated for children in Juneau over Thanksgiving weekend are arrayed on tables at Thunder Mountain High School on Nov. 25, 2020. (Courtesy photo / Luke Adams)
Font of plenty: JSD readies meals for Thanksgiving holiday

Nearly three tons of food got distributed for the long weekend.

Construction of the new Glory Hall, above, is going smoothly, said executive director Mariya Lovishchuk on Nov. 24, 2020. (Courtesy photo / Thor Lindstam)
Building a brighter future: New Glory Hall reaches skyward

The structure is rapidly progressing, shouldering aside inclement weather.

Most Read