Alaska has been a pioneer in cannabis laws for decades. In 1975, Alaska legalized the personal use of cannabis. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution’s right to privacy protected the adult use of small amounts of cannabis in their homes.
45 years later, Alaska has become the first state to license onsite cannabis consumption at cannabis retail stores. The new law allows cannabis retail stores to section out spaces attached to the store specifically for consumption. Although certain municipalities in California authorize this as well, Alaska is the first to make it legal state-wide.
If you’re thinking about visiting the Last Frontier, here is everything else you need to know about Alaska’s marijuana laws.
Possession and Purchasing Limits
People aged 21 and over may:
- Possess up to one ounce of cannabis at a time
- If an Alaska resident, give away up to one ounce of cannabis to another legally aged adult for no remuneration
- If an Alaska resident, give away up to six plants to another legally aged adult for no remuneration
Although cannabis is legal for personal use, employers have the right to enforce policies against it, including zero-tolerance policies, or those that require abstinence from cannabis.
Alaska’s law authorizes cannabis consumption in two locations:
- Private property
- Licensed cannabis retail stores with designated cannabis consumption areas
Although the law does not prohibit cannabis consumption on private residences, renters must check with their property and hotel owners and lease agreements. The law allows these entities to ban cannabis on their properties. Homeowners should check with their homeowner association.
Cannabis cannot be consumed in public, including in the following locations:
- Amusement venues
- Alaska Ferries
Cannabis is also prohibited on federal land including the following locations:
- National parks
- Federally regulated highways
- The postal service
Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level. A federal cannabis conviction can result in serious penalties.
Driving Under the Influence
It is illegal to drive under the influence of cannabis in Alaska. Doing so could result in arrest and a DUI conviction.
It is illegal to operate any motorized vehicle including motorcycles, scooters, snow machines, ATVs, boats, planes, or cars when under the influence of cannabis.
There is no legal limit for THC impairment, but law enforcement officers make arrests based on observed impairment. If you are using cannabis medicinally, you can still be arrested for a DUI based on an officer’s observation of impairment.
If a person refuses to take a blood test meant to detect THC, they will automatically be considered a high-risk driver. Regardless of a criminal conviction, they will receive mandatory ignition interlock for two years and level two alcohol education and therapy classes.
The fines and penalties for a DUI in Alaska include the following:
- First offense: 72 hours in jail, $1500 fine, 90-day license suspension, and an ignition interlock device
- Second offense: 20 days in jail, $3000 fine, minimum of 1-year-long license suspension, and an ignition interlock device
- Third offense: 60 to 120 days in jail, $4000-$10,000 fine, 3-year-long license suspension, and an ignition interlock device
- If a child is present in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, additional charges including child abuse may be imposed
Adults 21 and over can legally possess cannabis or cannabis paraphernalia in the passenger cabin of the vehicle. However, they cannot use cannabis while the vehicle is in operation.
It is illegal to transport cannabis across state lines, even if it is being transported from one legalized state to another. Exporting or importing cannabis is in violation of federal and state laws. The only exception is hemp as defined by the Farm Bill. However, the exported hemp must be in compliance with the Farm Bill—namely, it must contain 0.3 percent or less THC.
Legally aged adults may grow up to six plants at home for personal use. Only three of the plants can be mature and flowering at a time.
However, if there are two adults or more living in the household, up to 12 plants may be grown, six of which may be flowering. No more than 12 plants may be grown in a household even if there are more than two legally aged adults.
Qualifying Debilitating Medical Conditions
A patient diagnosed with one of the following debilitating medical conditions may be eligible to participate in Alaska’s medical marijuana program:
- Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus
- Positive status for acquired immune deficiency syndrome
- Severe pain
- Severe nausea
- Seizures including epilepsy
- Persistent muscle spasms
- Any other medical condition, or treatment for such condition, approved by the Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services
Applying for a Medical Marijuana Registry Card in Alaska
Alaska residents can complete this application to receive a Medical Marijuana Registry card. To complete the application process, applicants must do the following:
- Complete the original completed application packet (photocopies will not be accepted).
- Obtain a signed physician’s statement verifying that the patient has been diagnosed with a qualifying debilitating medical condition.
- Pay the application fee of $25 for an original card or $20 for a renewal.
Each of these should be included with the application packet and submitted to the Marijuana Registry.
Minor patients may also apply for a medical marijuana registration card following these steps. The guardian of the minor must submit an original statement consenting to be the guardian’s primary caregiver and permitting the minor to use medical marijuana.
If the application is denied, the applicant can try again in six months.