Legalized marijuana, a raise in the minimum wage and protection of Bristol Bay fisheries all appear to have won in unofficial results for the three ballot measures in Tuesday’s election.
Yes votes for Ballot Measure 3, raising the minimum wage to $9.75 an hour, and Ballot Measure 4, providing for protection of Bristol Bay wild salmon, both had nearly 2-to-1 leads over the no votes. With 73 percent of precincts counted, Measure 3 had 68.30 percent for yes to 31.70 percent for no. For Measure 4, yes had 65.47 percent to 34.53 percent for no.
In Ballot Measure 2, an act to tax and regulate the production, sale and use of marijuana, the margin was tighter, with 52.11 percent for yes and 47.89 percent for no.
“I think it’s a referendum for salmon, it’s a reflection that Alaskans uniformly protect pro-salmon,” Bob Shavelson, head of Cook Inletkeeper, said of Ballot Measure 4. “There’s lots of discussion about jobs that support a sustainable fishing economy over mining jobs. Alaskans clearly came out in support of sustainable fishing jobs.”
Measure 4 would require the legislature to approve future large-scale metallic sulfide mines in the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve and the bill would have to find that any proposed mine would not endanger that fishery.
Ballot Measure 2 would make it legal for adults 21 and older to produce, sale and use marijuana, and set a $50 per ounce excise tax on the sale of marijuana. Ever since the groundbreaking Alaska Supreme Court decision, Ravin v. Alaska, in which Homer lawyer Irwin Ravin asserted the right of adults to use marijuana in their homes, marijuana use has been decriminalized.
“I have high hopes for Alaska to end marijuana prohibition for the benefit of everyone, for our tax base, to keep people out of jail, rational adults who want to make their own decisions and don’t want to deal with the ramifications of marijuana being illegal,” said Ballot Measure 2 supporter Beth Carroll. “The tax boon could be substantial.”
Carroll said in chatter on social media, she saw many people saying the ballot measures were what brought them out to vote and that they might not have voted in the first place.
In the Bristol Bay ballot measure, Shavelson said he wasn’t surprised by the wide margin of the apparent win. Going back to when the late Sen. Ted Stevens called it the wrong project in the wrong place, Shavelson said Alaskans have recognized the importance of the Bristol Bay salmon fishery.
“Cleary we have a world class resource and Alaskans recognized that tonight,” he said.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.