Never before has the subject of marijuana been more in the headlines with a growing movement of decriminalisation rolling across the US and raising political questions.
It is now legal to smoke, grow and own small amounts of marijuana in the state of Alaska, leading to other states to look at the northwest frontier to consider their own future on the subject.
What makes the move in Alaska so politically interesting is that the state is traditionally generally leaning towards the Republican side of the fence. However the new measure was passed last year narrowly and soon the states of both Colorado and Washington were following suit – changing the landscape of the use of the drug for ever.
While many may think that it is now legal to smoke, use, grow and possess marijuana, there is a very thin, yet clear line between decriminalisation and legalisation and the drug remains illegal under federal law.
According to a report by Reuters, in the District of Columbia, Mayor Muriel Bowser said on the U.S. capital would go ahead with legalised possession of small amounts of marijuana and pot plants despite opposition from Congress. Voters overwhelmingly approved legalising pot last year, but its sale is still banned.
Over in Alaska the rules are slightly different and anyone aged 21 or older can possess up to an ounce (28.3 grams) of marijuana in Alaska and can grow up to six marijuana plants, three of which can be flowering.
Reuters explains that smoking in public and buying and selling the drug remains illegal, though private exchanges are allowed if money is not involved.
The subject of marijuana is a difficult one for politicians who rarely want to be seen advocating the use of drugs and the Obama administration has taken the line that they will allow this experiment with decriminalisation to continue while looking to clamp down on a smaller range of marijuana-related crimes, such as sales to children.
However commentators are wondering just how a more conservative president may react to the changes in the law. If a conservative republican comes into the White House in 2016, which is entirely possible at this point, then they may look to take a harder line on the subject.
Those is favour of new laws in Alaska say that they are in line with the sense of personal freedom that resonates with residents of Alaska, a state with a libertarian streak according to Reuters. They also argue that legal sales will generate income and jobs.
“Alaska now has some of the most sensible marijuana laws in the nation,” said Dr. Tim Hinterberger, chair of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in a statement to Reuters.