Smoking, growing and owning small amounts of marijuana became legal in Alaska on Tuesday, as a growing decriminalization movement reached the United States’ wild northwest frontier.
The Republican-leaning state, which narrowly passed the measure in November, followed Colorado and Washington states in allowing recreational use, reflecting a rapidly shifting legal landscape for the drug, which remains illegal under federal law.
Anyone aged 21 or older can now possess up to an ounce of marijuana in Alaska and can grow up to six marijuana plants, three of which can be flowering.
Smoking in public and buying and selling the drug remains illegal — though private exchanges are allowed if money is not involved.
President Barack Obama’s Justice Department has cautiously allowed the experiments to proceed, saying it would look to prosecute a narrower range of marijuana-related crimes, such as sales to children.
But that could change if a more conservative president is elected in 2016, when Alaska’s first pot shops are likely to open.