Is Weed Legal in Alaska?
Yes, both medical and recreational cannabis are legal in Alaska. With the passage of Measure 2 in 2014, Alaska became the third state to legalize recreational cannabis. Medical cannabis use was legalized in 1998 after voters approved the Alaska Medical Marijuana Initiative, or Measure 8.
Alaska was the second state in the U.S. to decriminalize cannabis after President Richard Nixon passed the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act in 1971. In 1975, the state Legislature imposed a $100 fine for possession, effectively decriminalizing the plant, though stopping short of legalizing it.
Also that year, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled in Ravin v. State that Alaskan adults had the right to use and possess a small amount of cannabis for personal use, according to Alaska’s constitutional rights to personal privacy. In 1982, the $100 fine was removed. In 1986, Alaska legislature decriminalized the possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana, or 113.4 grams, in the home and up to 1 ounce, or 28.35 grams, outside of the home.
However, the pendulum swung back toward prohibition in the late 1980s. On the heels of multiple cannabis trafficking busts, voters in 1990 approved the Alaska Marijuana Criminalization Initiative, or Ballot Measure 2. This law made possession of small amounts of marijuana a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine.
So, when was marijuana legalized in Alaska? In 1998, when voters legalized the Alaska Medical Marijuana Initiative, or Measure 8, a bill that legalized medical cannabis use for qualifying individuals. However, these regulations were contradictory. While they legalized cannabis possession and use, there was no legal way for patients and caregivers to obtain the plant.
Anti-cannabis sentiment gained the upper hand in 2006, when the Alaska marijuana laws were passed by the Legislature that once again criminalized possession. This law was heavily pushed by Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski, who was publicly against cannabis use.
Alaska’s Measure 2, or The Alaska Marijuana Legalization Initiative, was approved by 53% of voters in 2014 and allowed for the regulation, production, sale, and use of recreational cannabis. The measure went into effect February 2015.
Measure 2’s passage changed the Alcohol Beverage Control Board into the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office (AMCO), which established the Marijuana Control Board (MCB) in 2015 to regulate and govern recreational cannabis use.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) regulates the Medical Marijuana Registry.
Where is it Safe to Purchase?
Under Measure 2, adults 21 and older are able to purchase and consume cannabis from state-licensed retailers and establishments with a valid onsite consumption endorsement. They are able to purchase up to 1 ounce of marijuana, or 28.35 grams, or 7 grams of cannabis concentrate, or total cannabis less than 5.6 grams, or 0.2 ounces, of THC. Adults looking to consume cannabis onsite are limited to purchase 1 gram, or 0.035 ounces, or less per transaction.
Alaska cannabis shoppers must show a valid state ID as proof of age. At this time, retail stores accept cash only. Consumers are not subject to any sales or use tax on cannabis purchases, but a $50-per-ounce (28.35 grams) tax is levied when cultivators sell to manufacturers or dispensaries.
There are currently no dispensaries offering specifically medical cannabis for purchase. Therefore, patients and caregivers must purchase marijuana at licensed recreational retailers. Patients younger than 21 must have a caregiver purchase cannabis products on their behalf.
Alaska law prohibits the home delivery of cannabis products to consumers.
Where is it Safe to Consume?
Public cannabis consumption is prohibited by state law and remains illegal. Legal consumption may occur on private property or in an establishment with a valid onsite consumption endorsement. Onsite users can purchase up to 1 gram, or 0.035 ounce, of products with a limit of 10 milligrams of THC to be consumed onsite. Adults can consume flower, edibles, concentrates, oils, tinctures, salves, drinks, patches, and topical cannabis products.
Republican Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer signed off on the state’s approved regulations for onsite consumption on March 12, 2019, and the laws went into effect April 11, 2019. The onsite consumption rules give each local government jurisdiction over its own county, and ability to decide its own onsite regulations.
Legal consumers may possess 1 ounce, or 28.35 grams, of any form of marijuana. They may also give, but not sell, up to 1 ounce, or 28.35 grams, of marijuana and six immature plants to a person who is 21 or older.
to Be to Consume?
Consumers may carry cannabis in their vehicles while within, but it must be in a sealed container or in the trunk. Measure 2 does not prevent landlords from prohibiting or regulating the use of cannabis on their property, whether for medical or recreational use.
Adults and patients growing weed in Alaska may individually cultivate, process, and transport up to six immature marijuana plants with up to three or fewer being flowering plants. They can also possess marijuana produced by plants at home.
However, a single dwelling may have up to 12 marijuana plants present, with six or fewer being flowering plants, regardless of how many adults older than 21 reside there. Additionally, the cultivation site must not be in public view without the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical enhancements.
Medical Marijuana Registry
Alaska’s DHSS runs the Medical Marijuana Registry. Visit the DHSS website for patient and caregiver application forms.
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Chronic or severe pain
- Multiple sclerosis
- Persistent muscle spasms
- Seizures, including those characteristic of epilepsy
- Severe nausea
Patients must be diagnosed with one of the above debilitating conditions to qualify for medical marijuana use. To apply, patients must obtain a signed physician’s statement and have received an examination in the 16 months prior to application.
If a patient is a minor, a parent or guardian must submit a signed statement that the physician has explained the risks and benefits of medical marijuana. Also, the parent or guardian must be the patient’s primary caregiver, apply for a Medical Marijuana Registry card, and control patient access to medical cannabis.
All registry forms and documents are confidential. At this time, private and state-operated insurance companies do not cover medical marijuana expenses. Patients are required to have a Medical Marijuana Registry ID card to receive protected status. No correctional facility, medical facility, employer, school campus or recreation center is required to accommodate medical cannabis use.
Patient Registry Process
To join the Alaska Medical Marijuana Registry, patients must complete the following steps:
- Submit the original copy of the application.
- Obtain and submit a signed form of the physician’s statement stating that the patient has been diagnosed with a qualifying debilitating medical condition.
- Submit a photocopy of an Alaska driver’s license or identification card of the patient and caregivers.
- Pay a $25 registration fee for original card, or $20 for a renewal. Payments can be made by check or money order.
To become a qualified medical marijuana caregiver, Alaska residents must meet the following requirements:
- Caregivers must be at least 21 years of age and be a permanent resident of Alaska.
- Caregivers must be listed by the patient as either the primary caregiver or an alternate caregiver.
- A person may be a primary caregiver or alternate caregiver for only one patient at a time, unless the primary caregiver or alternate caregiver is simultaneously caring for two or more patients who are related to the caregiver by blood or marriage.
- The caregiver must not have been convicted of a felony controlled substance offense.
Alaska residents seeking to become qualified caregivers must include their name on their designated patient’s application for the Medical Marijuana Registry. They must also include a sworn statement they are at least 21 years old, with proof on a photo ID, and that they have never been convicted of a felony controlled substance offense.
Visitors 21 and older with a valid ID can purchase up to 1 ounce, or 28.35 grams, of usable cannabis; or 7 grams, or 0.25 ounces, of cannabis concentrate; or total cannabis containing less than 5.6 grams, or 0.2 ounces, of THC.
Alaska marijuana laws do not recognize medical marijuana cards issued by other states.
Licensing for Growers, Manufacturers, Processors, Retailers etc.
Under Measure 2, the MCB can grant an Alaska marijuana license for four types of marijuana businesses: cultivators, processors, dispensaries, and testing labs. Each are subject to an annual licensing fee as well as a non-refundable application fee and renewal fee.
Alaska marijuana laws require that all cannabis offered for sale in licensed stores be tested by state-licensed testing facilities. Licensed cultivation facilities are responsible for submitting all cannabis products for testing.
This page was last updated on Aug. 20, 2019