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Campaign to legalize pot takes big step

By Shannon Ballard 5:51 PM January 8, 2014

Ballot initiative backers submit signatures

ANCHORAGE – Backers behind a statewide ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana said they have the support they’ve been working toward.

Wednesday, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana turned in more than 45,000 signatures to the lieutenant governor.

That’s thousands more than needed to land the initiative on the primary ballot in August.

Those signatures are being counted and verified.

“We’ve been using a professional contractor to audit the signatures as they come in so we have a pretty good idea that our validity rate is where it needs to be,” said Tim Hinterberger, one of the sponsors behind the initiative.

If the signatures prove to be valid, Alaskans will decide if the 49th state will follow in the footsteps of Washington and Colorado. The initiative they’re trying to pass would make the possession of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older, treating it like alcohol.

“We’ll have a chance to join those states that have seen their way clear to a more sensible marijuana policy,” Hinterberger said.

Thousands of dollars have been spent to get the initiative this far.

Backers are unclear on just how much more money will flood into Alaska to fight for or against legalized marijuana as the issue gets closer to a vote.

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