Alaska

Marijuana in Alaska

Medical Marijuana

  • Removes state-level penalties for patients who use, possess of cultivate marijuana.
  • 1 ounce useable.
  • Cultivation of up to 6 plants (3 mature).
  • Requires doctor permission.
  • No legal mechanism to purchase marijuana.
  • Amendment requires patient reenrollment in state registry.

Criminal Penalties

Possession

Under an ounce: No Penalty

1 to 4 ounces: Misdemeanor – 90 days

Greater than 4 ounces: Felony – 5 years

Within 500 foot of school: Felony – 5 years

With intent to distribute > 1 oz: Felony – 5 years

Sale/Delivery

< 1 oz: Misdemeanor – 1 year

> 1 oz: Felony – 5 years

To a minor: Felony – 10 years

Cultivation

Less than 25 plants in residence: unclassified – n/a

1 ounce of more: Felony – 5 years

Alaskan voters legalized medical marijuana by ballot measure (Ballot Measure 8) in 1998, with 58 percent of voters favoring the measure. The measure removes criminal penalties for the use, possession and cultivation of marijuana under state law. Patients must possess written documentation from their physician that they “might benefit from the medical use of marijuana.”

Alaska Medical Marijuana Law

Approves the use of medical marijuana to treat a wide variety of medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, seizures, chronic pain and cancer. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is charged with approving other uses.

Senate Bill 94 amended the law in 1999. Alaska Statute Title 17 Chapter 37 establishes a confidential statewide registry. Patients are issued a valid identification card, which is required for protection under the law.

Marijuana Possession and Cultivation under Alaska Law

Patients and caregivers may cultivate up to six plants (no more than three mature plants) and may possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

While Alaska’s medical marijuana law removed street-level criminal penalties for the use and cultivation of medical marijuana, there is not mechanism in place to legally sell the drug. Thus, even those within their legal rights may face prosecution by the federal government or overzealous state or local authorities.

While our Los Angeles medical marijuana dispensary attorneys continue to fight on behalf of the industry, Alaska has avoided some of the federal scrutiny, in part because its system doesn’t rely upon dispensaries. The prohibition on marijuana sales certainly resolves many of the issues involving medical marijuana dispensaries, but it’s no solution for patients, who must resort to an illegal drug transaction to purchase their legal medication.

Decriminalization of up to 25 plants in the home is a quirk in Alaska law that dates to 1975, when an Alaska Supreme Court decision ruled homeowner’s privacy rights permit a small amount of marijuana in the home. A voter-backed attempt to recriminalize pot in 1991 was struck down for the same constitutional reasons, as was a bill from the legislature in 2006, which would have outlawed personal-use protection.

At the beginning of 2013, only about 400 Alaska residents had a valid medical marijuana card, which must be renewed annually. Advocates say the system’s reliance upon illegal drug transactions -- along with the virtual decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use – combine to offer the average Alaskan little incentive to follow the law.

Alaska Medical Marijuana News Archive

Without dispensaries, Alaska has avoided federal medical marijuana prosecutions, Juneau Empire, May 22, 2011.

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