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The Alaska Marine Highway System is a critically important piece of infrastructure that links Southeast Alaska communities, funnels visitors looking to spend their hard-earned dollars into Alaska, and generates hundreds and hundreds of jobs inside the state.

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In a way, Friday’s announcement by three environmental groups was refreshing.

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Kenneth Ray Book, 92, died Jan. 30, 2016, in Beaverton, Oregon.
Lawrence Harris Milton, 79, died Jan. 5, 2016, in Ketchikan.
MaryEllen Haseltine, 91, died Jan. 239, 2016, in Ketchikan.
3/19/2014
Legalization too costly

Alaska can't afford to legalize retail marijuana.

State agencies estimate the cost will be between $3.7 and $7 million to establish the system necessary to regulate and enforce a new marijuana law.

The question of whether to legalize retail marijuana is scheduled for this fall's statewide ballot.

If it should pass, agencies say they would need to add law enforcement and inspectors, among other positions. It also would add to the responsibility of a regulatory board or require a new board.

The state agencies that evaluated the costs used information from the experiences of Colorado and Washington to compose their cost estimates.

Of course, Colorado, in particular, has reported it is receiving millions of dollars in taxes from the marijuana retail business. Maybe Alaska would, too, but whether it would offset the costs is unknown.

None of those figures take into consideration the social costs, the effects of marijuana on individuals and society. Legalization also requires a bigger government, increasing state agencies by as much as an estimated $7 million.

For Alaska, where many citizens favor small government, the cost of legalizing retail marijuana is too high.