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 while 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, the Alaska legislature decriminalized the possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana (113.4 grams) in the home and up to 1 ounce (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.
The pendulum of public opinion swung again in 1998 when voters passed the Alaska Medical Marijuana Initiative, or Measure 8, a bill that legalized medical cannabis use for qualifying individuals. While the measure 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 legislature once again criminalized possession. This law was heavily pushed by Republican Gov. Frank Murkowski, who was publicly against cannabis use.
Finally, Alaska’s Measure 2, or The Alaska Marijuana Legalization Initiative, was approved by 53% of voters in 2014, which allowed for the regulation, production, sale, and use of recreational cannabis. The measure went into effect in February 2015.
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 on April 11, 2019. The onsite consumption rules give each local government jurisdiction over its own county and the ability to determine its own onsite regulations.
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) oversees the Medical Marijuana Registry.
Where is it safe to purchase weed in Alaska?
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 (28.35 grams) of marijuana, 7 grams of cannabis concentrate, or total cannabis with fewer than 5.6 grams of THC. Adults looking to consume cannabis onsite are limited to purchasing no more than 1 gram with a limit of 10 milligrams of THC per transaction.
Cannabis shoppers in Alaska 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, who build that into the retail price.
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 cannabis?
Public cannabis consumption is prohibited by state law. Legal consumption may occur on private property or in an establishment with a valid onsite consumption endorsement. Adults can consume flower, edibles, concentrates, oils, tinctures, salves, drinks, patches, and topical cannabis products.
Legal consumers may possess 1 ounce (28.35 grams) of any form of marijuana. They may also give, but not sell, up to 1 ounce of marijuana and six immature plants to a person who is 21 or older.
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.
Is home cultivation allowed in Alaska?
Adults and patients growing cannabis 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 the 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.
Medical marijuana registry
Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services runs the Medical Marijuana Registry. Patient and caregiver application forms are available on the agency’s website.
- 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. 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 application.
- Submit the signed physician’s statement form 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 caregiver(s).
- 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 the same amount as state residents.
Alaska marijuana laws do not recognize medical marijuana cards issued by other states.
Licensing for growers, manufacturers, processors, retailers, etc.
MCB grants licenses to cultivators, processors, dispensaries, and testing labs that pay a non-refundable application fee and renewal fee as well an annual licensing 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.
Frequently asked questions
When did Alaska legalize recreational weed?
With the passage of Measure 2 in 2014, Alaska became the third state to legalize recreational cannabis.
What policy made it recreational to smoke weed in Alaska?
Measure 2, which passed in 2014, legalized cannabis for recreational use in Alaska.
Are dabs legal in Alaska?
Adults can consume flower, edibles, concentrates, oils, tinctures, salves, drinks, patches, and topical cannabis products. So, yes, dabs are legal.
Alaska Marijuana Legalization, Ballot Measure 2 (2014), Full text of initiative
“An Act to tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana.” BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:
AS 17 is amended by adding a new chapter to read:
Chapter 38. The regulation of marijuana
Sec. 17.38.010. Purpose and findings.
Sec. 17.38.020. Personal use of marijuana.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the following acts, by persons 21 years of age or older, are lawful and shall not be a criminal or civil offense under Alaska law or the law of any political subdivision of Alaska or be a basis for seizure or forfeiture of assets under Alaska law:
(a) Possessing, using, displaying, purchasing, or transporting marijuana accessories or one ounce or less of marijuana; (b) Possessing, growing, processing, or transporting no more than six marijuana plants, with three or fewer being mature, flowering plants, and possession of the marijuana produced by the plants on the premises where the plants were grown; (c) Transferring one ounce or less of marijuana and up to six immature marijuana plants to a person who is 21 years of age or older without remuneration; (d) Consumption of marijuana, except that nothing in this chapter shall permit the consumption of marijuana in public; and (e) Assisting another person who is 21 years of age or older in any of the acts described in paragraphs (a) through (d) of this section.
Sec. 17.38.030. Restrictions on personal cultivation, penalty.
Sec. 17.38.040. Public consumption banned, penalty.
It is unlawful to consume marijuana in public. A person who violates this section is guilty of a violation punishable by a fine of up to $100.
Sec. 17.38.050. False identification, penalty.
Sec. 17.38.060. Marijuana accessories authorized.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, it is lawful and shall not be an offense under Alaska law or the law of any political subdivision of Alaska or be a basis for seizure or forfeiture of assets under Alaska law for persons 21 years of age or older to manufacture, possess, or purchase marijuana accessories, or to distribute or sell marijuana accessories to a person who is 21 years of age or older.
Sec. 17.38.070. Lawful operation of marijuana-related facilities.
Sec. 17.38.080. Marijuana Control Board.
At any time, the legislature may create a Marijuana Control Board in the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development or its successor agency to assume the power, duties, and responsibilities delegated to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board under this chapter.
Sec. 17.38.090. Rulemaking.
Sec. 17.38.100. Marijuana establishment registrations.
Sec. 17.38.110. Local control.
registration issued by the local government in accordance with (f) of this section or (g) of this section. These procedures shall be subject to all requirements of AS 44.62, the Administrative Procedure Act.
(e) A local government may establish a schedule of annual operating, registration, and application fees for marijuana establishments, provided, the application fee shall only be due if an application is submitted to a local government in accordance with (f) of this section and a registration fee shall only be due if a registration is issued by a local government in accordance with (f) of this section or (g) of this section. (f) If the board does not issue a registration to an applicant within 90 days of receipt of the application filed in accordance with AS 17.38.100 and does not notify the applicant of the specific, permissible reason for its denial, in writing and within such time period, or if the board has adopted regulations pursuant to AS 17.38.090 and has accepted applications pursuant to AS 17.38.100 but has not issued any registrations by 15 months after the effective date of this act, the applicant may resubmit its application directly to the local regulatory authority, pursuant to (c) of this section, and the local regulatory authority may issue an annual registration to the applicant. If an application is submitted to a local regulatory authority under this paragraph, the board shall forward to the local regulatory authority the application fee paid by the applicant to the board upon request by the local regulatory authority. (g) If the board does not adopt regulations required by AS 17.38.090, an applicant may submit an application directly to a local regulatory authority after one year after the effective date of this act and the local regulatory authority may issue an annual registration to the applicant. (h) A local regulatory authority issuing a registration to an applicant shall do so within 90 days of receipt of the submitted or resubmitted application unless the local regulatory authority finds and notifies the applicant that the applicant is not in compliance with ordinances and regulations made pursuant to (b) of this section in effect at the time the application is submitted to the local regulatory authority. The local government shall notify the board if an annual registration has been issued to the applicant. (i) A registration issued by a local government in accordance with (f) of this section or (g) of this section shall have the same force and effect as a registration issued by the board in accordance with AS 17.38.100. The holder of such registration shall not be subject to regulation or enforcement by the board during the term of that registration. (j) A subsequent or renewed registration may be issued under (f) of this section on an annual basis only upon resubmission to the local government of a new application submitted to the board pursuant to AS 17.38.100. (k) A subsequent or renewed registration may be issued under (g) of this section on an annual basis if the board has not adopted regulations required by AS 17.38.090 at least 90 days prior to the date upon which such subsequent or renewed registration would be effective or if the board has adopted regulations pursuant to AS 17.38.090 but has not, at least 90 days after the adoption of such regulations, issued registrations pursuant to AS 17.38.100. (l) Nothing in this section shall limit such relief as may be available to an aggrieved party under AS 44.62, the Administrative Procedure Act.
Sec. 17.38.120. Employers, driving, minors and control of property.
Sec. 17.38.130. Impact on medical marijuana law.
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit any privileges or rights of a medical marijuana patient or medical marijuana caregiver under AS 17.37.
Sec. 17.38.900. Definitions.
As used in this chapter unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) “Board” means the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board established by AS 04.06. (2) “Consumer” means a person 21 years of age or older who purchases marijuana or marijuana products for personal use by persons 21 years of age or older, but not for resale to others. (3) “Consumption” means the act of ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing marijuana into the human body. (4) “Local government” means both home rule and general law municipalities, including boroughs and cities of all classes and unified municipalities. (5) “Local regulatory authority” means the office or entity designated to process marijuana establishment applications by a local government. (6) “Marijuana” means all parts of the plant of the genus cannabis whether growing or not, the seeds thereof, the resin extracted from any part of the plant, and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or its resin, including marijuana concentrate. “Marijuana” does not include fiber produced from the stalks, oil, or cake made from the seeds of the plant, sterilized seed of the plant which is incapable of germination, or the weight of any other ingredient combined with marijuana to prepare topical or oral administrations, food, drink, or other products. (7) “Marijuana accessories” means any equipment, products, or materials of any kind which are used, intended for use, or designed for use in planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, composting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packaging, repackaging, storing, vaporizing, or containing marijuana, or for ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing marijuana into the human body. (8) “Marijuana cultivation facility” means an entity registered to cultivate, prepare, and package marijuana and to sell marijuana to retail marijuana stores, to marijuana product manufacturing facilities, and to other marijuana cultivation facilities, but not to consumers. (9) “Marijuana establishment” means a marijuana cultivation facility, a marijuana testing facility, a marijuana product manufacturing facility, or a retail marijuana store. (10) “Marijuana product manufacturing facility” means an entity registered to purchase marijuana; manufacture, prepare, and package marijuana products; and sell marijuana and marijuana products to other marijuana product manufacturing facilities and to retail marijuana stores, but not to consumers. (11) “Marijuana products” means concentrated marijuana products and marijuana products that are comprised of marijuana and other ingredients and are intended for use or consumption, such as, but not limited to, edible products, ointments, and tinctures. (12) “Marijuana testing facility” means an entity registered to analyze and certify the safety and potency of marijuana. (13) “Retail marijuana store” means an entity registered to purchase marijuana from marijuana cultivation facilities, to purchase marijuana and marijuana products from marijuana product manufacturing facilities, and to sell marijuana and marijuana products to consumers. (14) “Unreasonably impracticable” means that the measures necessary to comply with the regulations require such a high investment of risk, money, time, or any other resource or asset that the operation of a marijuana establishment is not worthy of being carried out in practice by a reasonably prudent businessperson.
AS 43 is amended by adding a new chapter to read:
Chapter 61. Excise tax on marijuana
Sec. 43.61.010. Marijuana tax.
Sec. 43.61.020. Monthly Statement and Payments.
Sec. 43.61.030. Administration and Enforcement of Tax.
The provisions of this Act are independent and severable, and, except where otherwise indicated in the text, shall supersede conflicting statutes, local charter, ordinance, or resolution, and other state and local provisions. If any provision of this Act, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is found to be invalid or unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act shall not be affected and shall be given effect to the fullest extent possible.