A survey of chiefs of police across Alaska shows concern over the costs associated with legalizing marijuana in the state, as proposed under Ballot Measure 2.
The Alaska Association of Chiefs of Police say taxpayers may be looking at $6 million in unanticipated costs if the initiative passes during the Nov. 4 general elections -- but proponents of legalization say that figure can't be supported by any hard evidence.
Police say the estimate is based on the anticipated costs of training officers in identifying the symptoms of marijuana use by drivers, as well as training 32 school resource officers statewide to support youth outreach.
“As marijuana becomes legalized in certain states, more of it gets used and more of it then shows up in drivers behind the wheel,” said Anchorage Police Department Chief Mark Mew.
The Yes on 2 campaign argues marijuana is already widely used in Alaska, and any increase in impaired driving after legalization is simply speculation.
“There's no strong indication so far of increased accidents attributable to marijuana use,” said Tim Hinterberger with the Yes on 2 campaign.
The Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation says cost fears are unfounded, and regulating the drug will benefit the taxpayer.
Mew says that in addition to financial costs, legalization may introduce moral and legal ambiguity into the criminal justice system.