Alaska Editorials

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Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:

Dec. 14, 2012:

Kodiak Daily Mirror: Alaska should explore legalizing marijuana

This month, the governor of Colorado signed a constitutional amendment legalizing a regulated commercial marijuana trade within that state. The move is expected to generate millions of dollars in tax revenue for Colorado each year.

We believe Alaska should set up an exploratory committee as a first step to following Colorado's example.

Gov. Sean Parnell has repeatedly encouraged the Legislature to lower oil taxes in order to spur commercial development. Legislative leaders have said falling oil production means Alaska is nearing a budget crisis.

We believe that by cutting government red tape, the state could create a new industry, generating more tax revenue and jobs.

Colorado's voter-approved amendment requires the state's general assembly and department of revenue create the legal structure behind a strictly regulated marijuana trade.

Alaska should get ahead of the curve by studying Colorado's regulations and those of Washington state, which has passed a similar legalization measure.

Alaska's committee would be charged with researching how legalization would affect the Alaska's economy. It would draft regulations relevant to our state's unique geography and population base.

Even if Alaska voters or the Alaska Legislature do not act to legalize commercial marijuana sales on their own, we believe the federal government is moving toward legalization on a national level.

In 2009, President Obama pledged to refrain from prosecuting medical marijuana providers operating legally. In the wake of the Colorado and Washington state votes, neither Attorney General Eric Holder nor the President have made an official statement. Their silence has been seen nationally as quiet acceptance.

Marijuana possession laws in Alaska are complicated by the 1975 Alaska Supreme Court case Ravin v. State. That case ruled that Alaskans have a legal right to possess up to four ounces of marijuana or plants for personal use in the privacy of their homes.

In 2006, the Alaska Legislature passed a law that included punishments for marijuana possession outside of the home. That law is still in effect, as is the state's medical marijuana program, which allows ill Alaskans to use marijuana legally.

Government should not unnecessarily restrain private enterprise, yet that is what Alaska has done with marijuana. Thanks to the state's reluctance to act, medical marijuana patients have no legal way to obtain their medicine other than growing it themselves.

It is time for Alaska to re-examine this strategy. As the state prepares for a dimmer financial future, it should not look only at oil and gas to increase revenue.

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Dec. 18, 2012

Ketchikan Daily News: Take it easy

The snow reminds us perforce, when it is falling and before the plows have had a chance at it: Take it easy.

Our roads are winding and, in some places, light-challenged, in the best of times. When temperatures are cold enough for visible snow or stealthy black ice, it's a small matter to go into a skid. Such an eventuality can turn worse, depending on oncoming traffic and what lies along the road.

The first step to doing well in winter driving conditions is having a vehicle in shape to handle them. Make sure tires are properly inflated and up to the task. Make sure windows are cleared (the front and rear windshields, and the side windows). Have plenty of fuel — how awkward to come to a slow, painful halt in the middle of a snowy road with other cars piling up (we hope figuratively) behind us. Keep your headlights on (not the brights when there is oncoming traffic) and make sure all your lights and signals are working right.

Drive defensively. Children don't realize it takes extra time to stop sometimes, so go slowly enough that if you need to stop suddenly, you can do so in relative safety. It might not be a child running into the street; it could be as simple as a left-turner thinking he had more time than conditions allowed to clear the oncoming lane.

Don't be that miscalculating driver: If you need to pull into traffic, or turn left, please wait until the coast is clear.

That doesn't mean everyone has to go 20 mph. Some people are much more comfortable driving much more slowly than most traffic. If you are one of those, please pull over when the opportunity presents itself so others can pass. Maybe in your opinion they are going too fast (and maybe they are going too fast in more than your opinion), but their rear-ending your vehicle won't help anyone.

Let's all help each other out this challenging-driving season. We'll be helping ourselves as well.

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