Alaska Cannabis Laws: Is Weed Legal in Alaska?

alaska marijuana laws
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As one of the pioneering states in the weed legalization journey, Alaska is the third state to legalize cannabis in the United States. The state has however had a rocky journey towards legalizing weed. If you’re new or a visitor in Alaska, it can be hard to keep up with the varying laws and regulations surrounding marijuana in different states. The following explores all you need to know about whether weed is legal in Alaska and uncovers the terms of the Alaska cannabis laws.

Is Weed Legal in Alaska 2021?

Yes, recreational use of cannabis is legal in Alaska. Weed is legal for adults 21 and over in the state. However, weed is still prohibited in places such as National parks and some private properties across Alaska.

Are Edibles Legal in Alaska?

Yes, edibles typically fall under recreational use and are 100% legal provided they are purchased from a licensed dispensary.

When Did Weed Become Legal in Alaska?

Recreational cannabis became legal in Alaska back in 2014. After the passage of Measure 2 in 2014, Alaska became only the third state to legalize recreational cannabis.

How to Get Weed in Alaska?

Recreational weed can be purchased in Alaska from any licensed retailer with a valid onsite consumption endorsement. Some retailers provide their menu online but buyers ultimately have to bring their IDs (mandatory) in-store to make a purchase. The laws do not currently support the delivery of marijuana in Alaska. Purchases are in cash and there is no requirement to track customer data. However, some retailers maintain a point of sale CRM to track and reward consumer loyalty.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Alaska?

Yes, medical use of cannabis is also legal in Alaska and has been so since 1998. However, medical marijuana users have to purchase products from recreational retailers since there are currently no medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.

How to Get Medical Marijuana in Alaska?

Accessing medical marijuana discounts is not as straightforward as it should be since the current rules do not allow for medical dispensaries. This is because after voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, a separate medical system was not created. Regulators feared that creating a dual system would see the medical marijuana prices undercut the recreational market. 

However, cannabis retailers are just not offering discounts, partly because retail marijuana shops are not allowed to offer medical advice. Perhaps, this would receive attention from regulators soon.

Marijuana Bills/Laws in Alaska & Key Questions

Alaska is certainly not new on the legal marijuana scene. The state’s marijuana legalization history dates as far back as 1998 when it legalized medical cannabis following. However, to truly get a clearer picture of the Alaska cannabis legalization journey, let’s go back to 1971. In 1971, President Nixon’s passing of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act 1971 paved the way for Alaska to become the second state to decriminalize cannabis.

Fast forward to 1975, the state legislature in Alaska imposed a $100 fine for possession of marijuana. This move effectively decriminalized cannabis but failed to legalize it. Later that year, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled in Ravin v. State that adults in the state had the right to possess and use a small amount of cannabis for personal use, in line with the state’s constitutional rights to personal privacy. By 1982, the fine was removed. As of 1986, the state’s legislature decriminalized possession of up to 4 ounces at home and an ounce outside the home.

As a result of the war on cannabis and the numerous drug busts in the 1980s, voters approved ballot measure 2, also called the Alaska Marijuana Criminalization Initiative. The initiative effectively made possession of small amounts of marijuana a misdemeanor. Punishment was capped at 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine. 

In 1998, voters again approved measure 8 that legalized medical marijuana for qualifying individuals. However, those who qualified had no legal way to access marijuana plants. In 2006, marijuana was again criminalized via the legislature with strong backing from Republican Governor Frank Murkowski.

In 2014, the Alaska Marijuana Legalization Initiative (Measure 2) was approved by 53% of voters. Measure 2 went into effect by February 2015 and made provisions for the regulation, production, sale, and use of recreational cannabis. Much of this made the headlines back then especially after a journalist-turned-activist and co-founder of the Alaska Cannabis Club, Charlo Greene, resigned from her job to focus on the push to legalize weed in the state.

How Much Weed Can I Have in Alaska? (in oz)

Residents of Alaska may legally possess up to 1 ounce (28.35 grams) of cannabis in any form provided they are 21 or older. Alaskans can also gift adults 21 and over or receive up to an ounce of marijuana in any form. 

Marijuana can be transported in vehicles provided it’s in a sealed container or stored in the trunk of the car. Also, landlords are not prohibited from regulating how cannabis is used on their properties.

Is Marijuana Decriminalized in Alaska?

Yes, marijuana is decriminalized in Alaska.

Is there a fine or penalty in Alaska?

Despite being legal in Alaska, public smoking of marijuana is prohibited. To solve this, the law allows for marijuana retailers to set up smoking areas for buyers. The fine for smoking marijuana in public is $100. 

Note that since marijuana is still prohibited at the federal level, the law does not allow smoking on any federal property including National parks and some private properties.

Plants per household in Alaska? 

Alaskans may cultivate up to 6 marijuana plants at home per individual, or 12 per household. Individual adults or patients may possess up to 3 mature plants out of the six permitted. The household can not cultivate more than 6 mature plants.

Dispensaries regulations 

There are currently no dispensaries for medical marijuana in Alaska. However, this would fall under the purview of the Marijuana Control Board (MCB).

Growers regulations

The Marijuana Control Board (MCB) handles all issues relating to regulations for growing marijuana and obtaining licenses which are mandatory for retailers. Prospective retailers are initially expected to pay a non-refundable application fee. They are subsequently required to pay a renewal and annual licensing fee.

Closing thoughts

Alaska has had a long and rough journey towards marijuana legalization and offers many lessons for newer states. For instance, by allowing licensed retailers to set up designated smoking areas, tourists who generally have no home to smoke from can easily use these areas. Still, the journey is not complete with Alaska. Its medical marijuana industry still has a long way to go and could borrow an idea or two from states like California or Colorado.