First pot debate proceeded at Egan Center

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by Derek Smith

Anchorage, AK--The November fourth elections of 2014 holds the future for several issues, one in particular that has split voters right down the middle. 

 
"Marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol, Kristinais going to try and scare you for the next hour saying marijuana is actually more dangerous than it actually is," Taylor Bickford, Director of Alaska Operations says who is also for the Legalization. 
 
" Take a look at this and i'm confident you will agree that this is bad for Alaska," says Kristina Woolston, who is against legalization and also Vice President of Chenega Corporation .
 
It's ballot measure two whether or not to legalize marijuana.
Spokesmen from both sides presented arguments as city officials witnessed the lenthgy debate. 
 
 " What we are talking about is a multi million dollar industry over a substance that is safer than alcohol, that is the single biggest cash crop in the state and it's not even close. This notion of taking the industry out of hands of criminals is going to create tax revenue, jobs," Bickford says. 
 
    The question of how pot would affect business could mean millions of dollars of revenue.  However,  anti-marijuana representative Kristina Woolston believes the dangers go beyond making an extra dollar. 
 
 " Fishing companies are on warning, that if anymore uses drugs, their insurance will go up, and or it will be canceled, and this goes for any business in Alaska. When you legalize, users goes up, it becomes more prevalent," Woolston says. 
 
     Another inquiry suggested utlizing a compromise, decriminization. But advocate Director of Operatior bickford shewed it down by saying decriminalizing marijuana still leaves the drug in drug dealers hands with no regulation. 
 
 "It doesn't solve problems of prohibitions which is the criminal market, we have the highest rtates in the country, the use is already here, so the question is not should it be here but how should we manage it," Bickford says. 
     
As the bitter dispute proceeded, one of the last questions pretty much summed up the entire issue asking if marijuana is a gateway drug. 
     The pro-pot side Bickford insisted marijuana itself doesn't compel further drug use, however Woolston disagreed by saying if marijuana is legal, it will increase drug use. 
 
"Studies show that when you legalize something, use goes up particularly in our youth because they think its safe and Ithink this is an area that should be a extreme concern."