Cannabis laws in Alaska are quite liberating. As opposed to some of the states where there are strict regulations for cannabis even for medical users, in Alaska, marijuana is decriminalized even for recreational use.
We will take a look at some of the legislation and the history of how cannabis came to be legal in Alaska.
History of Cannabis Laws in Alaska
Cannabis laws in Alaska have gone an interesting route, still, it was the second state to decriminalize cannabis in the time of President Nixon. While there was a $100 fine for possession of cannabis, jail time was not on the table. Even though cannabis wasn’t considered as a completely illegal substance, it was still not free to use as a legal substance.
Still, the constitutional rights to personal privacy allowed for adults for possessing small amounts of marijuana for personal use. This bill was passed in 1975, making cannabis legal to use to a certain extent. By the year 1982, the fine of $100 for possession was no longer standing and weed was decriminalized in cases of possession to up to 1 ounce which is around 30 grams outside of the home and 4 ounces or around 115 grams in the home.
Considering this, you can say that the cannabis laws in Alaska in the 1980s were quite liberating. However, the story takes a turn.
Towards the end of the 1980s when the prohibition took place. Due to a lot of cannabis trafficking offenses, a bill was passed in 1990 called the Alaska Marijuana Criminalization Initiative also known as Ballot Measure 2. This law waved goodbye to the cannabis freedom in Alaska since weed was once again criminalized. The fines were $1.000 and possibly 90 days of jail time according to the cannabis laws in Alaska.
Marijuana arrests in Alaska via Norml
Still, the story doesn’t end here. In 1998, a petition was placed by the Alaska Medical Marijuana Initiative in order to make medical marijuana legal and accessible to registered qualifying users. The bill was passed but this is a quite contradictory decision since even though qualifying patients were allowed to use medical marijuana, there wasn’t really anywhere they could get it from.
The people of Alaska were still standing firm that cannabis should be legalized even for recreational use. In 2003, the state revised a case which was classified as a criminalized crime possession under the 1990 act. There were two acts attempting to legalize cannabis for recreational use; one in 2000 and the other one in 2004 yet they both failed to meet the required vote percentage.
When the Republican Governor Frank Murkowski was elected, he publicly stated his views on marijuana – he was strongly against it. So in 2006, legislation was passed that criminalized weed once again by the cannabis laws in Alaska. If caught in possession of weed, one could be charged with a misdemeanor punished by up to 90 days in prison for the possession of 1 ounce or around 30 grams. Possession of under 4 ounces which around 115 grams was punished by a year in prison, while everything over 4 ounces was considered a felony and the jail time could be much higher.
In 2014, things turned bright for Alaska once again. The Alaska Marijuana Legalization Initiative also is known as Measure 2 was approved by 53% of the voting body. This meant that weed was made legal to use, produce and sell for purely recreational purposes. Adults over the age of 21 could possess 1 ounce of cannabis for personal use and cultivate up to six cannabis plants at home according to the new cannabis laws in Alaska. This was a big leap for Alaska as it became the third state to legalize cannabis for recreational use once again.
Alaska Cannabis Club via NPR
How Can You Buy Cannabis in Alaska?
Cannabis laws in Alaska are quite loose today. It is now legal to buy marijuana for recreational use from state-approved dispensaries. Measure 2 regulation says that anyone over the age of 21 is able to freely purchase up to 1 ounce or around 30 grams of weed, 7 grams of cannabis concentrate or cannabis which in total contains no more than 5.6 grams of THC. Cannabis is also sold to be consumed onsite, yet the quantity is limited to 1 gram per transaction.
In order to purchase marijuana in Alaska from a state-approved dispensary, you would need to show a valid proof of age such as an ID card. Weed is available for purchase in different forms such as flowers, concentrates, topicals, edibles, tinctures and similar. The interesting thing is that consumers are not subjected to use tax on any cannabis products, yet there is a $50 per ounce tax which is collected when growers sell it to dispensaries according to the cannabis laws in Alaska.
Growing Cannabis in Alaska via CBC
What is even more interesting is that there are no specialized medical marijuana shops in Alaska. Medical users are free to obtain their marijuana from a normal recreational use dispensary where they can get information on what product will suit their needs best. For medical users of marijuana who are under the age of 21, a parent or a legal guardian needs to do the purchase on their behalf which is in no way a problem due to the fact that they don’t need special documentation or identification to purchase it according to the cannabis laws in Alaska. Medical marijuana users are not able to get the weed delivered to their home address so people need to physically go into a shop and buy it.
Can Weed Be Consumed Everywhere?
While purchasing, possessing and consuming weed is legal throughout the state of Alaska, it is still prohibited to consume it on public places. Consumption apart from at a private property is allowed onsite in dispensaries, yet you are only allowed to buy up to one gram for onsite consumption. The limit for onsite consumption in terms of THC content is limited to 10mg as stated by the cannabis laws in Alaska. New laws are being drafted and there might be changes to public consumption regulations which should be introduced soon. The way the regulations are set now indicate that it is illegal to use weed within 500 feet away from a school, a place of religious worship, youth and recreational centres and correctional facilities. There are currently no clear prohibitions about consuming weed inside a parked vehicle.
Alaska Sign via Mental Pygmy
According to the cannabis laws in Alaska, it is legal to consume cannabis in different forms, including flower, edibles, oils, tinctures, patches etc. However, even though cannabis is legal, there are no legal requirements for landlords or employers to make their decisions based on whether the person consumes weed or no. That is entirely up to the employer or the landlord to make their mind up in their belief whether they want to employ or rent a property to a person who is consuming weed, regardless if it is a recreational or a medical user in question.
There are some regulations when it comes to caregivers. The caregiver is not allowed to consume the cannabis which they are buying or growing for a patient, yet there are no limitations for them to obtain their own cannabis for personal use according to the cannabis laws in Alaska.
Cannabis Possession Limits in Alaska
People in Alaska are allowed to possess an ounce or around 30 grams for personal use in any form of marijuana. They are also allowed to give up to an ounce marijuana to another user, yet not in exchange for money to people who are over the age of 21. The same applies to the marijuana plant, where a person is allowed to grow up to 6 mature plants and also give the same amount to another user not in exchange for money in accordance to the cannabis laws in Alaska.
The allowed quantities in marijuana can be freely carried in a vehicle as long as they are in a sealed container.
Cannabis Dispensary in Alaska via Wikipedia
Growing Cannabis at Home
It is allowed, as stated by the cannabis laws Alaska, to grow and cultivate your own marijuana, regardless if it is for medical or recreational use. The limits are set to a maximum of 6 immature plants and 3 flowering plants. The homegrown marijuana possession regulations are the same as for marijuana bought in dispensaries. Anyone over the age of 21 is allowed to grow their own weed, however, it needs to be out of public view without using binoculars, aircraft or any other optical equipment.
Medical Marijuana Registry
Even though everyone can purchase marijuana freely, there still is a medical marijuana registry for qualifying patients. As stated by the cannabis laws in Alaska, the following conditions are considered qualifying:
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Chronic or severe pain
- Multiple sclerosis
- Persistent muscle spasms
- Severe nausea
In order to qualify as a medical marijuana patient, the person needs a written statement from a physician signed within the last 16 months before submitting the application as described by the cannabis laws in Alaska.
For patients that are younger than the age of 21, the parent or the legal guardian needs to submit and sign the application on their behalf. The application needs to be accompanied by a written statement from a physician. It is the responsibility of the parent or the legal guardian to get informed of the risk, benefits, and dosage that the patient needs to use. They also need to have a Medical Marijuana Card and are responsible for sticking to the possession limits in accordance with the cannabis laws in Alaska.
Cannabis Legalization Alaska via Marijuana
So far, both state and private insurance companies do not cover the expenses for medical marijuana patients regardless if they have been registered as such by the state or not. All the documents submitted in the application process are strictly confidential. Still, Medial facility, correctional facility, landlord, employers or campuses are not legally obliged to allow the consumption of marijuana on their sites even for medical marijuana users, so they are free to prohibit the use if they believe it is the right thing to do depending on the type of organization they are in charge of.
How To Register as A medical Marijuana Patient?
In order to be recognized as a user of medical marijuana, a person needs to submit a filled-in application to the state as stated by the cannabis laws in Alaska.
The following items need to be included in the application:
- A physician’s statement of the diagnosis and how medical marijuana can help that condition. The statement should not be older than 16 months at the time of submitting the application
- A photocopy of a national ID card or driver’s license
- All applicants are subjected to a $25 application fee and $20 renewal fee.
One important thing to bear in mind is that if there is an error in the application, the fee is not refundable and the patient will not be able to apply to register as a medical marijuana user in the next 6 months period. Any changes to the information stated on the application form such as an address change must be reported to the MMR within 10 days from the change happening as stated by the cannabis laws in Alaska.
To qualify as a medical marijuana caregiver, the person needs to be over 21 years of age and a permanent resident of Alaska. They also need to be listed in the application by the patient, stating them as their caregiver. The caregiver can have only one primary patient at the time unless they are caring for two people simultaneously and they are related to them either by blood or marriage. It is a main requirement for the caregiver not to have any criminal record of committing a felony.
As you can conclude yourself, Alaska has quite liberating regulations for the usage of marijuana even for recreational use. The cannabis laws in Alaska for medical users actually do seem stricter than for recreational use, which is why some medical users even choose not to register as one, but rather use their freedom in Alaska and buy the cannabis freely in dispensaries.