MEDICAL MARIJUANA: AK Bill Would Mandate Registry
The Alaska Senate passed a bill late last week that would restrict the terms of the state's successful medical marijuana voter initiative, replacing an optional state registry with mandatory registration. The Anchorage Daily News reports that SB 94 passed 15-5 along party lines, with Democrats opposing the measure. State Sen. Loren Leman (R), the bill's sponsor, said, "I assure members that this does not repeal the law. It makes it work." But state Senate Minority Leader Johnny Ellis (D) countered, "The idea that the citizens didn't know what they were doing or that they were ignorant or that legislators know best is pretty arrogant and obnoxious." Although Leman touted his bill as a compromise with medical marijuana activists, Alaskans for Medical Rights' David Finkelstein said, "To make [the registry] mandatory just isn't fair. They're not criminals. They're not sex offenders." Hemophilia patient Bill Kozlowski, who testified on the measure before the state Senate last week, noted that marijuana is still illegal under federal law. "Why would I risk my already short and difficult life to be put on a list that can be used against me?" he asked.
Finkelstein said "there is one thing he likes about SB 94" -- it provides $58,000 to administer the state registry, funding that was previously lacking. He said, "We want the money. We want the registration system. We just don't want it mandatory" (Ruskin, 5/14).