Over the next couple of weeks, Canada Cannabis Legal will be publishing a series where we will review the legal recreational cannabis regimes across the United States. In the first of the series, we will discuss the status of recreational cannabis in Alaska.
Since 1998, cannabis for medical purposes has been legal in Alaska. Ballot Measure 2 legalized recreational cannabis in Alaska when it was passed in November 2014.
Possession per person is capped at 1 ounce. The 1-ounce maximum possession limit is pretty standard among most states that have legalized recreational cannabis. In Alaska, possession of up to 4 ounces results in a misdemeanour charge and may lead to fines and/or potential jail time. Possession with 4+ ounces will result in a more serious felony charge. Possession within 500 feet of a school with any amount of cannabis also results in a felony charge.
State law permits personal non-commercial cultivation of a maximum of six cannabis plants at a time. Only three of the six plants may be mature/flowering at any given time. Home-grown cannabis is still subject to strict security requirements with respect to access and may not be visible to the public.
Retailers of cannabis are licensed by the state’s Marijuana Control Board (the “Board”), which generally regulates all aspects of the recreational regime. The Board also issues licenses for cultivation and manufacturing facilities for dried cannabis and cannabis concentrate. The first retail cannabis store opened in Alaska in October 2016. The Act establishing the Board and their duties may be found here. Regulations on licensing can be found here.
Retailers are legally allowed to stock concentrates, edibles, and topical creams and/or lotions. Penalties for illegal sales are classified as a felony and may result in jail time or significant fines up to $10,000. It is not an offence under Alaska law for those over 21 years of age to manufacture, possess, or purchase “marijuana accessories”, or to distribute or sell “marijuana accessories” to those over the minimum age.
The minimum age to consume cannabis is 21, which is consistent with the legal minimum drinking age in the state. It is illegal to supply cannabis to a minor, but gifting or sharing less than 1 ounce of cannabis to those above the minimum age is permitted.
Public consumption of cannabis is strictly illegal. Violations of this law may result in a fine of up to $100. In March, the Board voted 4-1 to revive a proposal to allow and regulate on-site cannabis consumption at cannabis retail stores, a la Amsterdam “coffee shops”. Previously, the Board opposed this plan. At a meeting set to take place next week, the Board will consider three different proposals for on-site consumption at cannabis retailers, a topic that has been hotly debated and discussed in Alaska and across the United States. The proposals will be open to a 30-day public comment period prior to coming up for a vote.
For more information on Alaska’s cannabis recreational statutes and regulations, please visit the Board’s website.
Feature Image: “USA Flag” Ó Andre-Pierre du Plessis