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Alaska goes to Pot

November 05, 2014

The upshot from yesterday’s mid-term election: Alaskan’s chose a new governor, turfed a Senator and voted to legalize marijuana. Economically the state is facing many challenges, most notably a $2 billion budget deficit.

Alaskan voters approved Ballot Measure 2, an initiative legalizing recreational marijuana in Alaska, by about 52 percent in favor to 48 percent opposed, with 100 percent of the state’s precincts reporting. With the vote, Alaska joins Washington, Colorado and Oregon. The initiative will not become law until 90 days after the election is certified, which is expected to be in late November. The state can then create a marijuana control board—expected to be housed under the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development. That group will then have nine months to craft regulations dealing with how marijuana businesses will operate.

With the loss of the Senate by the Democrats, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska is set to become chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources panel. The oil and natural gas industries can count on her advocacy of Keystone, expanded domestic drilling and U.S. energy exports.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker has a narrow lead over incumbent Republican Gov. Sean Parnell in Tuesday’s general election. If Walker does become the Governor has has promised:

Economically, Alaska has suffered, like many northern regions, from declining commodity prices. The state’s unemployment rate has crept up higher than the national average for the first time since 2008. It stands at 6.8%.

Alaskans will receive $1,884 is month as their annual draw from the Alaska Permanent Fund. The fund has assets of more than $50B.

 

 

Commentary

Alaskans have voted with characteristic independence. The State faces a huge budget deficit in light of its depleting North Slope resource. It’s unclear whether the pending State marijuana revenues will have any impact on their fiscal situation.

Sources