Recreational marijuana became legal in Alaska on February 24, 2015. However, what many don’t know is that recreational marijuana has been quasi-legal since 1975. Ruled under the Alaskan Supreme Court, possession of marijuana in small amounts was covered under the Alaskan constitutional right to privacy. This meant that in the privacy of one’s own home it was unlawful to accuse and infringe on an Alaskan’s property in pursuit of marijuana charges. With this, Alaska became the first and only state to argue marijuana’s legality under a constitutional right to privacy in the historic case of Ravin v. State.
Stirring up quite a lot of controversy and conflict with the constitutional right to privacy, marijuana was recriminalized in 1990 across the state – which bore a measly $100 fine with exceeding rarity. Fast forward 8 years to 1998 and medical marijuana became legal with a 58.7% majority vote.
For the next 16 years, a series of failed recreational legalization efforts flooded the courts. Finally, in 2014, recreational cannabis legalization passed with a 53.2% vote taking effect on February 24, 2015.
After legal recreational marijuana took effect on February 24, 2015 adults over the age of 21 are allowed to purchase up to an ounce of cannabis, or up to 7 grams of marijuana concentrate per day. Residents between the ages of 18-21 can purchase medical marijuana with a valid physician’s recommendation and ID.
It is important to note that the delivery of recreational marijuana to consumers is outlawed in Alaska under AS 17.38 or 3 AAC 306.
In Alaska, any adults aged 21 and up are allowed to purchase recreational marijuana from a validly licensed store. Finding a licensed retailer that meets your needs is easier than ever, with marijuana search directories now just a click away. For recreational marijuana, only a valid government-issued ID is required for anyone hoping to enter a dispensary.
As of now, any form of marijuana delivery service is prohibited and there has been no mention of a law to change this.
Alaskan state law has permitted dispensaries to operate between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 a.m. While this is the rule across the state, local jurisdiction has the authority to change this. It appears that no city has imposed regulations, but most dispensaries elect to open in the morning and close between the range of 6 p.m. and 12 a.m.
After legal recreational marijuana took effect on February 24, 2015 adults over the age of 21 are allowed to purchase up to an ounce of cannabis, or up to 7 grams of marijuana concentrate per day. Since possession restrictions do not allow for any more than this, purchasing a higher quantity is by nature illegal.
Alaska’s secluded landscape gives statewide pride to some of their local strains that are said to be ‘daytime strains’ to keep one moving and active. However, with the advance in marijuana innovation, Alaska serves all types of marijuana products ranging from edibles to concentrates and various medical creams.
For Alaska, there is no statewide general sales tax, rather every cultivation facility or marijuana grower must pay an excise tax of $50 per ounce or a proportionate part of all mature marijuana sold or transferred to a dispensary. Growers pay $25 per ounce for immature marijuana plants, a rate of $15 per ounce for trim and $1 per clone. This makes Alaska the only state to tax marijuana purely on weight. Although this excise tax is eventually absorbed into higher prices, the consumer isn’t burdened with a sales tax upon final transaction as found in most other states.
While most states tax medical marijuana at a much lower rate than recreational marijuana, Alaska imposes the exact same tax on medical marijuana.
Possession laws in Alaska are fairly straightforward. Just like purchasing, one is allowed to possess up to 1 ounce of flower or 7 grams of concentrate. Therefore, as long as one isn’t stocking up on multiple days’ worth of marijuana there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. In Alaska, the cultivation of 6 plants is also lawful given that three or less are matured. These possession laws are the same regardless of the marijuana is medical or recreational so note that medical marijuana does not grant special possession privileges.
Under Alaskan law, public consumption of marijuana is illegal. However, Alaska has become the first state to allow existing marijuana retail stores to set up areas where customers can consume the cannabis they purchased. This law was enacted in December of 2018 and took effect starting April of 2019. In Alaska, public consumption of marijuana does not warrant a criminal charge but rather is more similar to a speeding ticket with a $100 fine.
Areas in Alaska that DO allow the use of marijuana:
Areas in Alaska that DO NOT allow the use of marijuana:
While cannabis has been legalized across the state of Alaska, it has not yet been legalized on the federal level. For this reason, you cannot carry or use any marijuana product while on federal land including Alaska’s 54 million acres of national parks. As it is still a federal crime, consumption or possession of marijuana on federal land will merit a federal citation such as a misdemeanor.
In 1998, Alaska became one of the first states to legalize medical marijuana but oddly enough the Alaskan government did not allow for medical dispensaries. Then, when recreational marijuana was legalized in 2014, there was no dual medical and recreational system put in place. Therefore, a medical marijuana card will not get one far in Alaska as there are no discounts or medical advice offered. Medical marijuana has since then been a sort of grey area and tricky legal system in Alaska with almost no benefits over recreational marijuana.
Obtaining a medical marijuana card in Alaska is a very routine process similar to most states. One must qualify to obtain a card by having their physician sign off on an existing approved medical condition. After this, an Alaskan citizen must submit an application with their physician’s recommendation. This application is then reviewed by the state and determined if an MMJ card should be given.
As of now, out of state MMJ cards are not accepted across the entire state of Alaska.
Any adult 21 or older may drive with up to 1 ounce of marijuana or 7 grams of concentrate at one time. The product must be in a sealed container, out of reach of the driver (this includes the glove compartment). Any open container of marijuana must be stored in the trunk of the vehicle at all times. If your car does not have an enclosed trunk space, Alaskan law allows marijuana to be stored behind the last seat of the vehicle. No person(s), either driver or passenger, is legally allowed to smoke in any motor vehicle regardless if the car is in motion or not.
In any state, driving under the influence of cannabis is highly illegal and constitutes penalties similar to drinking and driving. In Alaska, law enforcement goes by the standard field sobriety tests to determine whether or not someone is driving high. If there is any sign of impairment, a drug recognition officer will be informed and conduct further investigation. Consuming marijuana responsibly is very important, and driving will never be tolerated. If you are unsure if you are fit to drive, keep your experience worry-free and connect to one of the many popular ride-sharing apps or utilize public transportation.
No matter how much cannabis you have, it is highly illegal to drive across state lines with marijuana. In the particular case of Alaska, one can only cross into Canada when driving which is a major felony in the eyes of the law. Taking any amount of marijuana across the Canada-US border is illegal under federal law and can lead to arrest and prosecution.
Adults 21 and older are legally allowed to cultivate up to 6 marijuana plants given that three or less are fully mature. Plants must be grown in places that are out of public view. The marijuana must also be grown in areas that are secured from unauthorized users such as children or the public. These rules apply to both recreational and medical marijuana and are not to be violated.