Associated Press

A measure that would legalize the production of industrial hemp in Alaska has passed the state House and Senate.

The bill awaits Gov. Bill Walker’s signature before becoming law, Alaska Public Media reported Wednesday.

The legislation would allow registered participants into a pilot project to grow hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant that produces useful fiber, but almost none of the psychoactive compound that alters people’s mental state.

SITKA, Alaska (AP) — A second marijuana retailer has opened for business in the southeast Alaska city of Sitka.

The Sitka Sentinel reported Tuesday that the Northern Lights Indoor Gardens began selling its products on Feb. 16. The business is located in the same strip mall as the city’s first marijuana business, Weed Dudes.

Northern Lights owner Micah Miller says he’s been selling about a pound of pot each day and likely won’t have enough to keep up with demand before his next crop is ready in late March.

Just one debate so far will feature the four main candidates for the U.S. Senate seat, with participation in three others unclear.

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Democrat Ray Metcalfe, Libertarian Joe Miller and independent Margaret Stock have said they will take part in the public broadcasting debate Nov. 3, said Lori Townsend, news director for the Alaska Public Radio Network and moderator for that debate.

A recount has confirmed the challenger in a northern Alaska legislative race defeated incumbent Rep. Benjamin Nageak of Barrow in the Aug. 16 primary.

State Division of Elections officials said Monday that challenger Dean Westlake widened his lead the House District 40 race from four to eight votes. Westlake received 825 votes, and Nageak got 817 votes.

The recount was conducted after the initial certified results showed Westlake won with 819 votes, compared to Nageak’s 815. A previous unofficial count after the primary had Westlake in the lead by 21 votes.


Legislators are voicing their concerns with state officials about voting irregularities during the primary election that may have affected the result in at least one precinct.

The Senate State Affairs Committee held a hearing in Anchorage on Monday to get more information on the problems that came about during the Aug. 16 primary election. No action was taken, but some legislators discussed urging the state to hold off on certifying the election.

The meeting took place as election workers from the Alaska Division of Elections hand-counted ballots in Juneau.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Australian Catherine Skinner had just enough patience — and a bit of anger — to ride out the difficulties and earn a gold medal in her first Olympics.

The survived a shoot-off in women’s trap to get into the final round and hit 12 of 15 targets in the gold medal match to beat New Zealand’s Natalie Rooney on Sunday.

“It made me a bit more angry instead of being nervous and locking up,” Skinner said of the difficulties. “It made me just want to see and smash.”

The state corrections department announced a plan Tuesday to close the Palmer Correctional Center and transfer nearly 500 prisoners and many of the 105 staff members to other prisons throughout southcentral Alaska.

The state is facing a multibillion-dollar deficit amid low oil prices. The Palmer facility has a $10.6 million annual budget, and the state estimates it will save $5.6 million by closing the facility by the end of November.

The remaining $5 million will be used by other facilities to bring staffing levels closer to recommended levels.

ANCHORAGE — Three teenagers are being held on suspicion of kidnapping an Eagle River resident during a robbery attempt.

Alaska State Troopers said two of the teens, a 19-year-old and an 18-year-old, are from Wasilla.

They said a 17-year-old will be waived to adult status in the case.

Troopers said that at about 4 a.m. Wednesday, the teens assaulted the Eagle River man at a home in Wasilla and forced him to lead them to his home on the Old Glenn Highway.

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Legislature has approved sweeping changes to the state's criminal justice system.

On Friday, the Senate agreed to changes made to the bill in the House. The House passed the bill last week. It next goes to the governor for consideration.

The bill was based on changes recommended by a criminal justice commission.

It is geared toward arresting growth within the state prison system and addressing recidivism.

It is among the measures considered by lawmakers this year aimed at major changes to state programs or institutions.

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A mass of exceptionally warm water in the northeast Pacific Ocean could shake up recent predictions of higher salmon runs in Alaska this year, according to fisheries researchers.

Brian Beckman with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle said the issue is biologists are not sure exactly how the warm water known as the Pacific Blob affects different salmon along the West Coast, KTOO-FM reported (