While it is legal to possess a small amount of marijuana for personal use, there are still many marijuana crimes on the books in Alaska. Many of these crimes are felony offenses that carry the potential for multiple years of imprisonment and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. In Alaska, marijuana crimes include:
Additionally, the Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that possessing up to four ounces of marijuana in your residence (for personal use) is protected by the right to privacy afforded under the Alaska Constitution. The Alaska Supreme Court has also ruled that residents can legally cultivate up to 25 plants in their homes.
Alaska’s marijuana laws are different from those in other states. It is legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use, and you can possess up to four ounces for personal use in your own home. But, beyond this, possessing marijuana is still a crime in Alaska. The Alaska Statutes establish separate offenses for sale, delivery, cultivation, and driving under the influence of marijuana as well, and these crimes carry severe penalties. If you have been charged with any type of marijuana crime, you need to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense lawyer promptly.
What is Illegal in Alaska?
Alaska also has a medical marijuana law that allows eligible patients to grow up to six plants and possess up to one ounce of marijuana for medicinal use. In order to possess and use medical marijuana, Alaska residents must obtain a Medical Marijuana Registry card from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Division of Public Health.
Pursuant to Section 17.38.020 of the Alaska Statutes, it is also legal to:
What is Legal in Alaska?
In addition to these crimes, it is also illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana in Alaska. Under Section 28.35.030 of the Alaska Statutes, driving under the influence of marijuana (or any other controlled substance) is subject to the same penalties as driving under the influence of alcohol. These penalties are determined based upon the defendant’s prior record (if any):
Under Section 17.38.020 of the Alaska Statutes, it is legal for individuals 21 years of age and older to possess up to once ounce (approximately 28 grams) of marijuana for personal use. It is also legal to use, purchase and transport up to one ounce of marijuana anywhere in the state—with one major exception: You cannot legally use marijuana in public. Under Section 17.38.040 of the Alaska Statutes, using marijuana in public is a violation that is punishable by a fine of up to $100.
According to state regulations, no one under the age of 21 can buy or possess cannabis. It's also illegal to consume cannabis in public spaces, or bring it across the border.
Fried expects there are closer to 600 jobs in the industry by now, and more expected to come. He said there are as many licences waiting for state approval as there are currently operating across Alaska.
Skagway is expecting almost 900,000 cruise ship passengers this year.
"Alaskans love their weed, so there is definitely a demand for it — and we grow it," said Metz.
Hundreds of jobs for Alaskans
"Getting to know different strains, where the plant comes from, and what works for them — because everybody is so different, so just the knowledge is being spread about these great strains."
"We have a grow facility here, we have a dispensary, and it's quiet," said Scott Hahn, Skagway Borough Chief. "It's a good story I guess, if you're pro-marijuana."
Remedy Shoppe owner Tara Bass said her business has no specific clientele. She says she sees everyone from elderly women to middle-aged businessmen in her shop.
'Positive changes in culture'
"Just positive changes in culture. People are getting to know the plant more," said Metz.
Now, Alaska cultivators can apply for limited or standard licences to grow marijuana. Limited licences are cheaper and intended for small operations of 500-square-feet or less — like Coyote and Toad's Garden .
It is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000 to possess with intent to distribute less than 1 ounce of marijuana. Possession with intent to distribute an ounce or more of marijuana is a class C felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $50,000.
Cultivation of less than 25 plants of marijuana for personal use in a private residence is protected under the right to privacy of the Alaska constitution. Cultivation of 25 plants or more is a class C felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine up to $50,000.
Marijuana is a Schedule VIA substance under the Controlled Substances chapter of Alaskan criminal law. However, tetrahydrocannabinols, hash, and hash oil are Schedule IIIA substances.