Alaska Marijuana Business Guide
Medical marijuana use is currently legal in Alaska but recreational pot use without penalty has yet to be implemented. However, Alaska has some of the loosest pot laws in the U.S. Possession of marijuana has been decriminalized for over a decade and allows residents to keep up to one ounce of pot in their home without being charged with a crime. Alternately, if you are caught with one ounce or less outside of your home, you could receive a $1000 fine and 90 days in jail. Following completion of Ravin v. Alaska, state legislatures further passed a law making it legal to cultivate no more than 25 pot plants at your residence.
Felony convictions are implemented for the following conditions:
- Possessing more than 25 plants or four ounces of marijuana (possible five-year prison term and fines as high as $50,000)
- Being caught carrying any amount of pot within within 500 feet of a community center, school may also get you five years in prison and large fines.
- Possessing more than one ounce of marijuana with intent to sell (possible five years in prison, $50,000 fine)
Alaska voters agreed to legalize medical marijuana in 2008 by passing Ballot measure #8 ( Alaska Stat. §§ 17.37.10 – 17.37.80), a statute that permitted individuals suffering from chronic diseases with prescriptions written by licensed physicians to cultivate and consume their own medical marijuana plants. The ballot also provided medical marijuana patients with the ability to hire caregivers (one per patient) to help them grow pot plants in the event they are physically or mentally unable to do so themselves. Caregivers are restricted to people over 21 years old who are not on parole, probation or harbor past convictions involving any level of felonies.
To qualify for medical marijuana treatment, Alaska residents must be diagnosed with one or more of the following:
- Chronic pain
- Multiple sclerosis
- Other disorders involving continuous nausea and/or muscle spasticity
Caregivers or patients are permitted to possess up to one ounce of pot for medical purposes or up to six plants (only three are allowed to be mature). Prospective medical marijuana patients wanting to obtain a pot identification card must submit an application to the Alaska medical marijuana registry by contacting the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services in Juneau.
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
350 Main Street, Room 404
PO Box 110601
Juneau, Alaska 99811-0601
Phone: (907) 465-3030
Fax: (907) 465-3068
Laws Regarding the Operation of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Alaska
Although medical marijuana patients or their caregivers are allowed to cultivate plants for personal medical use, Alaska state legislatures failed to implement regulations or authorization regarding collectives or dispensaries in their state. However, there is no law at this time prohibiting dispensaries and some residents are actively pursuing the establishment of medical pot dispensaries because of this loophole omitted in the Ballot 8 statute.Download the Alaska “Application for Medical Marijuana Registry” and “Physician Statement”
Medical Marijuana Collective in Alaska
In a recent article published in the Fairbanks Daily Chronicle, a therapeutic massage specialist is pushing to initiate operation of Alaska’s first medical marijuana collective in Fairbanks, the second largest city in Alaska. In fact, she recently persuaded the city’s officials to hold a discussion at the next meeting of city council members regarding enactment of laws regulating medical marijuana dispensaries in order to facilitate access for patients who prefer to obtain medical pot in their own. Already, at least one councilman has said he would favor allowing dispensaries to operate in Fairbanks but city attorneys are requesting assistance from the district attorney due to complications involving what they see as the city’s ability to legalize the establishment of a medical marijuana dispensary.
The Marijuana Policy Project in Alaska
The MPP (http://www.mpp.org/states/alaska/) is a national organization based in Washington D.C. that has been fighting reform of marijuana laws since the 1990s.
In September, 2013, the MPP published a press release announcing that Alaska, along with nine other states. are to be targeted as states carrying a voter initiative to regulate and tax the sale of recreational marijuana beginning in 2016. This campaign to legalize recreational marijuana use currently has nearly 20,000 signatures, just 25,000 short of the 45,000 signatures required to put such a ballot in front of voters.
Since recurring polls indicate that the majority of Alaska residents favor legalization of recreational marijuana, it would appear that the Frontier State could be considered another place for “ganjapreneurs” to think about setting up shop in the next two to three years. Because Colorado and Washington will already have pot shops operating legally by the time Alaska legalizes recreational pot use, it can be expected that Alaska lawmakers will establish licensing, zoning and taxation regulations similar if not identical to those already established in Colorado and Washington. This scenario leads to PotIntel.com to suggest that as more states opt to allow the retail sale of recreational marijuana, the potential for successful pot show owners to develop chains of pot shops that operate in different states and bear the owner’s own brand name is a distinct and financially exciting possibility.
Video – Petitioning for Recreational Marijuana in Alaska – 2014 Initiative
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