Alaska today became the third U.S. state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, but organizers don’t expect any public celebrations because it remains illegal to smoke marijuana in public, the Associated Press reports. In the state’s largest city, Anchorage police officers are ready to hand 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, voters left many of the details to lawmakers and regulators to sort out. That has left confusion on many issues. The initiative bans smoking in public, but didn’t define what that means. Lawmakers left the question to the alcohol regulatory board. That’s left different communities to adopt different standards of what smoking in public means to them. In Anchorage, officials tried and failed to ban a new commercial marijuana industry. Police Chief Mark Mew said his officers will be strictly enforcing the public smoking ban. In North Pole, Ak., smoking outdoors on private property will be OK as long as it doesn’t create a nuisance, officials said.