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Marijuana Is Now Legal In Alaska, The 3rd US State To OK Pot

Leaders of the Alaska Cannabis Club share a joint at their medical marijuana dispensary in Anchorage. On Tuesday, Alaska became the third state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana use.

Alaska's voter initiative making marijuana legal takes effect Tuesday, placing Alaska alongside Colorado and Washington as the three U.S. states where recreational marijuana is legal. The new law means people over age 21 can consume small amounts of pot — if they can find it. It's still illegal to sell marijuana.

"You can still give people marijuana, but you can't buy it — or even barter for it," Alaska Public Media's Alexandra Gutierrez reports. "So, it's a pretty legally awkward spot. That probably won't stop people from acquiring it, though."

The ballot measure that was adopted in November allows Alaskans to possess marijuana harvested from up to six plants on private property. For now, that's the biggest change in the state's pot practices.

"There are no stores yet, but black market sales are still illegal," Gutierrez adds. "The state is now crafting regulations for marijuana retailers, and the stores will be licensed and operational by next year."

A similar initiative to Alaska's was passed in Oregon; marijuana will begin to be legalized there in July. Another measure adopted by voters in Washington, D.C., has been blocked by Congress.

The many questions that surround legalization in Alaska prompted the Alaska Dispatch News to run a story urging its readers to be "highly informed." In Anchorage, police have posted a "Know Your Grow" page.

Since November, local and state governments have been trying to clarify legal questions such as how much pot a person can possess (and in what form) and the places where consumption will be off-limits.

Also coming into play next year will be the legalization of commercial farms.

On Monday, Alaska's Gov. Bill Walker filed legislation to create a marijuana control board, similar to the body that controls alcohol sales.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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