Alaska becomes 3rd state with legal marijuana

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Alaska becomes 3rd state with legal marijuana
Lakewood, CO - MARCH, 4: Sales associate, Crystal Guess handles a jar of cannabis inside a Good Meds medical cannabis center in Lakewood, Colorado, U.S., on Monday, March 4, 2013. This is at a Good Meds medical cannabis center in Lakewood, and is one of the facilities that Kristi Kelly, Co-Founder of Good Meds Network, operates. (Photo by Matthew Staver/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
MEAUX, FRANCE - AUGUST 25: A field of legal cannabis plants selected for their low content of THC grows on August 25, 2014 near Meaux, France. Cannabis is the source of hemp, which is used in a variety of applications including insulation, textiles, rope and paper. France is the second largest producer of industrial hemp in the world after China. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
This photo taken on July 15, 2014 shows a cannabis plant growing in a garden in Cologne, Germany. A German court ruled for the first time on July 22 that seriously ill patients may grow their own marijuana for medical purposes in certain cases. AFP PHOTO / DPA / OLIVER BERG /GRMANY OUT (Photo credit should read OLIVER BERG/AFP/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 30: A marijuana plant grows under a black light at 3D Cannabis Center in Denver, December 30 2013. Starting January 1st Colorado will be the first U.S. state to allow recreational marijuana. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Model ChaCha VaVoom shows her style at the HempCon medical marijuana show, May 24, 2013 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Thousands of marijuana enthusiasts gathered for the three-day event for exhibits of medical marijuana dispensaries, collectives, evaluation services, legal services and equipment and accessories. Under California state law, people suffering from chronic diseases have the right to grow, buy and use marijuana for medical purposes when recommended by a doctor. In 2003 the Medical Marijuana Protection Act, established an identification card system for medical marijuana patients. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Attendees look at marijuana paraphenelia displays at the HempCon medical marijuana show, May 24, 2013 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Thousands of marijuana enthusiasts gathered for the three-day event for exhibits of medical marijuana dispensaries, collectives, evaluation services, legal services and equipment and accessories. Under California state law, people suffering from chronic diseases have the right to grow, buy and use marijuana for medical purposes when recommended by a doctor. In 2003 the Medical Marijuana Protection Act, established an identification card system for medical marijuana patients. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Desiree Martin A picture taken on April 12, 2013 shows plants of marijuana at the plantation of the Sibaratas Med Can association in Mogan on the southwest coast of the island of Gran Canaria. The plants grow from cuttings for approximately two months and then blossom before being harvested, dried, stored in jars for a month and later processed to be consumed on site. Spanish law prohibits the possession of soft drugs like cannabis in public and its growth to be sold for profit is illegal. But the law does tolerate growing cannabis for personal use and its consumption in private. Dozens of private marijuana smoking clubs operate across Spain that take advantage of this legal loophole that serve cannabis users who do not want to get their drugs from the streets. AFP PHOTO / DESIREE MARTIN (Photo credit should read DESIREE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Marijuana plants grow at the MedMar Healing Center, a medical-marijuana dispensary, in San Jose, California, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. San Jose is the medical-marijuana capital of Silicon Valley with 106 clinics, about twice as many per square mile as Los Angeles. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - NOV 04: Adam Eidinger, co-owner of Capitol Hemp is a leader in the push to fully legalize the possession and use (of up to two ounces) of marijuana and the possession and cultivation of up to three marijuana plants. He was at the after-party for the Yes on 71 event at the Meridian Pint bar as early returns were in favor of the proposition. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOV 04: Lots of initiative 71 supporters were happy as early returns showed the pro-pot law leading early in the evening. The after-party for the Yes on 71 event was held at the Meridian Pint bar. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOV 04: (L) Adam Eidinger, co-owner of Capitol Hemp is a leader in the push to fully legalize the possession and use (of up to two ounces) of marijuana and the possession and cultivation of up to three marijuana plants. He was at the polling place at Burke E.S. in Washington, D.C. lobbying voters as they arrived to vote. At right is fellow hemp supporter Zack Pesavendo. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
AURORA, CO - OCTOBER 13: Ray Saccomano, from Aurora, gives one strain of marijuana the smell test. Saccomano says he is glad to have a store close to where he lives. Euflora, the first retail marijuana store in Aurora, opens on Monday, Oct. 13, 2014 at 6260 S. Gun Club Road. The store had no lines of people waiting outside prior to opening, but saw a small, steady crowd as the doors opened. (Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Marijuana (cannabis) is arranged for a photograph inside the Evergreen Apothecary in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BETHPAGE, NY - AUGUST 30: A closeup view of marijuana in a grinder as photographed on August 30, 2014 in Bethpage, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 09: A participant smokes a marijuana joint while marching in the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Supporters of cannabis legalization are hoping legalized sale in parts of the USA will increase the likelihood of legalization in Germany. The city of Berlin is considering allowing the sale of cannabis in one city district. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
An employee pulls marijuana out of a large canister for a customer at the LoDo Wellness Center in downtown Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Marijuana (cannabis) is arranged for a photograph inside the Evergreen Apothecary in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
CALISTOGA, CA. FEB. 4: Gordon Brownell is a lawyer, and Republican, who ran for first campaign for legalization of marijuana in California in 1972. Some pot and a pipe, the package is from one of the first medical marijuana stores in California
Marijuana (cannabis) is arranged for a photograph inside the Evergreen Apothecary in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Marijuana plant clones stand for sale in The Green Solution dispensary in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Colorado has just legalized the commercial production, sale, and recreational use of marijuana, while Washington State will begin its own pot liberalization initiative at the end of February. On Jan. 8, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said his state would join 20 others and the District of Columbia in allowing the drug for medical purposes. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A man holds a giant joint during a march for the legalization of cannabis in Santiago, on May 18, 2013, as part of the 2013 Global Marijuana March which is being held in hundreds of cities worldwide AFP PHOTO / Martin BERNETTI (Photo credit should read MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCT10: Medical marijuana is dispensed at the Takoma Wellness Center, October 10, 2014, in Takoma Park, DC. Marijuana legalization in the district is medicinal at this point but activists are looking for a broader relaxation of the law. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
A 'legalize' poster for a referendum about legalizing marijuana is placed with mayoral posters in Washington, DC on October 31, 2014. Ballot Initiative 71 would legalize the cultivation and possession of limited amounts of marijuana in the District of Columbia. AFP PHOTO/YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 09: A sticker calling for the legalization of marijuana lies on the street at the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Supporters of cannabis legalization are hoping legalized sale in parts of the USA will increase the likelihood of legalization in Germany. The city of Berlin is considering allowing the sale of cannabis in one city district. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - AUGUST 09: Participants, including two with a marijuana leaf emblem on their bellies, dance at the annual Hemp Parade (Hanfparade) on August 9, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. Supporters of cannabis legalization are hoping legalized sale in parts of the USA will increase the likelihood of legalization in Germany. The city of Berlin is considering allowing the sale of cannabis in one city district. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) -- Alaska has cleared up some confusion in the rush to legalize marijuana, but even that process had its missteps Tuesday.

A voter initiative made Alaska the third U.S. state to legalize pot, and the ballot measure prohibited smoking in public. Neither the measure nor lawmakers defined a public place, leaving it to the state's alcohol regulators to do so.

The state alcohol control board met via teleconference early Tuesday and decided pot can't be smoked in places generally accessible to the public, like parks, schools or on the street.

But the teleconference started late because organizers gave out the wrong phone number.

The call originated from the board's Anchorage office. However, a locked gate blocked access to the meeting site.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Alaska on Tuesday became the third U.S. state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but organizers don't expect any public celebrations since it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public.

In the state's largest city, Anchorage police officers are ready to start handing out $100 fines to make sure taking a toke remains something to be done behind closed doors.

Placing Alaska in the same category as Washington state and Colorado with legal marijuana was the goal of a coalition including libertarians, rugged individualists and small-government Republicans who prize the privacy rights enshrined in the Alaska state constitution.

When they voted 53-47 percent last November to legalize marijuana use by adults in private places, they left many of the details to lawmakers and regulators to sort out.

That has left confusion on many matters.

The initiative bans smoking in public, but didn't define what that means, and lawmakers left the question to the alcohol regulatory board, which planned to meet early Tuesday to discuss an emergency response.

That's left different communities across the state to adopt different standards of what smoking in public means to them. In Anchorage, officials tried and failed in December to ban a new commercial marijuana industry. But Police Chief Mark Mew said his officers will be strictly enforcing the public smoking ban. He even warned people against smoking on their porches if they live next to a park.

But far to the north, in North Pole, smoking outdoors on private property will be OK as long as it doesn't create a nuisance, officials there said.

Other officials are still discussing a proposed cultivation ban for the Kenai Peninsula.

In some respects, the confusion continues a four-decade reality for Alaskans and their relationship with marijuana.

While the 1975 Alaska Supreme Court decision protected personal marijuana possession and a 1998 initiative legalized medicinal marijuana, state lawmakers twice criminalized any possession over the years, creating an odd legal limbo.

As of Tuesday, adult Alaskans can not only keep and use pot, they can transport, grow it and give it away. A second phase, creating a regulated and taxed marijuana market, won't start until 2016 at the earliest. That's about the same timeline for Oregon, where voters approved legalizing marijuana the same day as Alaska did but the law there doesn't go into effect until July 1. Washington state and Colorado voters legalized marijuana in 2012 and sales have started there.

And while possession is no longer a crime under state law, enjoying pot in public can bring a $100 fine.

That's fine with Dean Smith, a pot-smoker in Juneau who has friends in jail for marijuana offenses. "It's going to stop a lot of people getting arrested for nonviolent crimes," he said.

The initiative's backers warned pot enthusiasts to keep their cool.

"Don't do anything to give your neighbors reason to feel uneasy about this new law. We're in the midst of an enormous social and legal shift," organizers wrote in the Alaska Dispatch News, the state's largest newspaper.

Richard Ziegler, who had been promoting what he called "Idida-toke" in a nod to Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, reluctantly called off his party.

There's no such pullback for former television reporter Charlo Greene, now CEO of the Alaska Cannabis Club, which is having its grand opening on Tuesday in downtown Anchorage. She's already pushing the limits, promising to give away weed to paying "medical marijuana" patients and other "club members."

Greene - who quit her job with a four-letter walkoff on live television last year to devote her efforts to passing the initiative - plans a celebratory toke at 4:20 p.m.

Meanwhile, Alaska Native leaders worry that legalization will bring new temptations to communities already confronting high rates of drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and suicide.

"When they start depending on smoking marijuana, I don't know how far they'd go to get the funds they need to support it, to support themselves," said Edward Nick, council member in Manokotak, a remote village of 400 that is predominantly Yup'ik Eskimo.

Both alcohol and drug use are prohibited in Nick's village 350 miles southwest of Anchorage, even inside the privacy of villagers' homes.

But Nick fears that the initiative, in combination with a 1975 state Supreme Court decision that legalized marijuana use inside homes - could open doors to drug abuse.

Initiative backers promised Native leaders that communities could still have local control under certain conditions. Alaska law gives every community the option to regulate alcohol locally. From northern Barrow to Klawock, 1,291 miles away in southeast Alaska, 108 communities impose local limits on alcohol, and 33 of them ban it altogether.

But the initiative did not provide clear opt-out language for tribal councils and other smaller communities, forcing each one to figure out how to proceed Tuesday.

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