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Learn About Marijuana In Alaska
Frequently Asked Questions About Marijuana in Alaska
Glacial coastlines, roaring rivers, and nights that last for months are just a few of the peculiar, yet interesting things Alaska has to offer. With a population of over 735,000 people, Alaska is a beautiful state separated from the mainland United States. Filled with many of the tallest mountains in North America and other natural wonders, it makes sense the state is known as a frontier of adventure, freedom, and open space. In this spirit of freedom, Alaskan voters have succeeded in ending the prohibition of marijuana.
Is Marijuana Legal in Alaska?
Yes. Alaska has reformed marijuana laws allowing certain individuals to grow, buy, and possess marijuana. Alaska has legalized both medical and recreational marijuana.
When Did Marijuana Become Legal in Alaska?
Alaska legalized marijuana for medical use during the 1998 election. The law allows individuals with qualifying debilitating diseases to receive medical marijuana recommendations from certified physicians. As long as they are registered within the state system, patients can legally possess, use, and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana. The law did not provide any way for medical dispensaries to be licensed or operate legally.
Recreational marijuana was passed by Ballot Measure 2 in November of 2014.
Where Are Dispensaries in Alaska Located?
In December of 2016, the state had less than ten dispensaries open, with the first legal sale of marijuana from a dispensary occurring in October of 2016. The state does not limit the amount of licensed marijuana-related businesses in the state. Instead, local governments may set limits or ban the industry altogether.
Are The Dispensaries Medical or Recreational?
Medical dispensaries in Alaska were never properly licensed by state regulators. As a result, only recreational dispensaries exist. Alaska has not implemented separate tax or regulatory structures for medical and recreational marijuana.
Who Can Become a Medical Patient in Alaska? Who Can Purchase REC?
Recreational marijuana can be purchased by adults ages 21 and older.
Medical patients may any age, including under the age of 21. Medical marijuana patients must be certified by a qualified physician. Though residents may petition to add other illnesses or diseases to the list, Alaska qualifies these conditions for treatment by medical marijuana:
- HIV or AIDS
- Seizures, including those that are characteristic of epilepsy
- Persistent muscle spasms, including those that are characteristic of multiple sclerosis
- Severe pain
- Severe nausea
How Do I Become a Medical Patient in Alaska?
The patient and the recommending physician first have to establish a professional relationship, which involves reviewing the patient medical history, medications, and any relevant diagnoses. The physician must then perform an in-person examination and, in writing, certify that marijuana may help the person cope with the symptoms of their qualifying condition.
After receiving the doctor's recommendation, Alaskans must fill out an application available from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. A passport-style photo, a witness, and $25 paid by check or money order are also needed to complete the application.
Where Can I Consume Marijuana in Alaska?
When Alaskan lawmakers clarified the definition of “in public” regarding marijuana consumption, they worded it to exclude facilities with endorsements for on-premises consumption. In February 2017, the social cannabis clubs seemed to have a falling out with industry regulators. To clarify what “in public” means in regard to marijuana, Alaska Lieutenant Governor Bryon Mallott filed an emergency regulation that would define the word:
- Highways and (presumably) public roads
- Public transportation centers, such as a bus station or airport
- Schools, all the way from preschool to college
- Prisons or other correctional facilities
- Businesses of amusement
- The parts of an apartment complex or hotel that are not private rooms or residences, such as the hallway or lobby.
- Within 500 feet of any youth or recreation center
Additionally, medical patients are forbidden from using marijuana in any way that may cause harm or endanger other people.
Recreational consumers are not permitted to consume marijuana “in public.”
How Do I Get a Job in the Marijuana Industry of Alaska?
Alaska requires any individual wanting to work within a dispensary, cultivation facility, or product manufacturer to first complete a certification course, offered by six different companies across the state. After completing the training course, those wishing to work in the marijuana industry in Alaska must submit an application containing proof of identity, address, fingerprints, and a $50 application fee.
Any applicant who has had a previous felony, criminal conviction, or a misdemeanor drug charge will be denied.
Is Drug Testing for Marijuana Legal in Alaska?
Alaska does not establish protections for employees who use marijuana; however, employers are generally only required to be concerned with drug use that impacts performance. Employers get to set the rules of their business and patients or recreational consumers are subject to those policies. Punishment is typically reserved for on-the-job impairment.
Is Marijuana Delivery Legal in Alaska?
Delivery from a dispensary to an individual person is illegal. Delivery of marijuana or marijuana-infused products is only permitted from a licensed producer or cultivator to a retail facility.
How Can I Pay for Marijuana in Alaska Dispensaries?
Due to Federal regulations regarding illegal substances, where marijuana remains as a Schedule I narcotic, banking institutions and card services are often hesitant to get involved with the marijuana industry. As a result, dispensaries do all sales in cash.
Alaska Marijuana Laws
Alaskan voters have been voting on marijuana-related ballot measures since 1990 when 54 percent of the state said yes to the criminalization of marijuana possession and use. By the 1998 state election, however, Alaska had begun its turnaround. Over 58 percent of Alaskans passed the Alaska Medical Marijuana Initiative, legalizing the cultivation and use of limited amounts of marijuana for those suffering from a disease, condition, or complication related to the treatment of a condition - such as nausea or wasting syndrome.
In 2000, Alaskans took to the polls once more, this time in an effort to decriminalize the possession and use of marijuana and hemp products. It failed by less than 10 percent. Then again in 2004, an initiative would find its way onto the Alaska ballot seeking legalization reform, failing by only 5 percent.
A full decade would pass before the state would once more see marijuana on the ballot. The 2014 push to regulate adult-use marijuana in Alaska would be approved, passing with 55 percent of voter support.
Purchase and Possession Limits
Medical patients and recreational customers may possess up to one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana. Alaska retail marijuana regulators have stated the following equivalencies when selling marijuana:
- One ounce of marijuana flower or
- Seven grams of marijuana concentrate or
- 16 ounces of Marijuana-infused product in solid form or
- 72 ounces of marijuana-infused product in liquid form
Additionally, adults ages 21 and older may gift or transfer up to these amounts to any individual 21 and up. Any individual medical or recreational consumer caught in excess of these amounts may be fined as much as $10,000. Additionally, the offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.
Growing Marijuana at Home in Alaska
Both medical and recreational consumers may grow up to six plants, with no more than three being mature (flowering), at any one time. Medical patients may allow their caregiver to cultivate on their behalf, as long as the caregiver has also registered with the state.
The state has not set a limit on how many plants may be grown under one roof. All marijuana must be grown in a locked, secure area that cannot be seen with the unaided eye. Any grown marijuana that exceeds the one-ounce possession limit must be kept at home, also in a locked, secure area.
Marijuana and Driving
Driving while Intoxicated
Driving while under the influence of marijuana remains penalized by the same criminal charges and fines as driving under the influence of alcohol. Under no circumstance should citizens operate cars, snowmachine, boat, airplane, or ATVs.
Driving While in Possession of MarijuanaMarijuana may be transported by valid medical patients, their caregiver, or any person 21 or older. The package must remain sealed and out of reach and must not be opened or used while the vehicle is moving. Marijuana purchased or grown in Alaska cannot leave the state.
Marijuana and Minors
Minors may only use marijuana or marijuana-infused products legally if the minor is registered as a medical patient. In order for a child or youth to be registered, the physician must have a thorough discussion of the risks and possible benefits of the treatment with the parents or legal guardian of the minor. The parents or legal guardian must, in writing, consent to the treatment and register as the caregiver for the minor.
Possession and use remain criminal offenses for all minors not registered with the state medical cannabis program.
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