Is Recreational Weed Legal in Alaska?

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
August 2, 2021
Alaska Legality Cannabis
Alaska Legality Cannabis

Yes, recreational marijuana is legal throughout Alaska, along with medical-use, such as in places like Juneau and Anchorage.  In 1998, medical cannabis use was legalized in The Last Frontier state as a result of the voter-approved Alaska Medical Marijuana Initiative, also known as Measure 8.  Then, in 2014, recreational use was passed under Measure 2, making Alaska the third state to pass such a law.


History of Weed Laws

Alaska has, in fact, been a cannabis-friendly state for a long time.  After President Nixon criminalized cannabis in 1971 with the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, Alaska passed a law in 1975 that required a $100 fine for marijuana possession, with such a small penalty being in place to do all but decriminalize it.  At the same time, it was ruled in the state that adults could possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use, thus implying that the state would not put resources into enforcing cannabis laws.  Then, in 1986, the state decriminalized possession of up to 4 ounces of marijuana.


However, in 1990, Alaska voted to criminalize marijuana by approving the Alaska Marijuana Criminalization Initiative, which was a response to growing concerns over drug trafficking taking place within state lines.  As a result, it became a misdemeanor to possess small amounts of cannabis, leading to up to $1,000 in fines and up to 90 days in jail.


But, in 1998, the state passed a law that allowed qualifying medical patients to have legal access to marijuana, although no legislation was passed pertaining to caregivers at the time.  In 2006, Governor Murkowski, known for his strong anti-cannabis stance, effectively criminalized marijuana completely, and this lasted until 2014 when it was decriminalized at last, with a narrow 53% voter approval.  In 2019, laws were passed that allowed the state to regulate its marijuana trade.


Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in Alaska?

Anyone 21 years of age or older can purchase marijuana at a licensed dispensary or another type of establishment that has undergone the licensing process through the state.  Up to one ounce of marijuana can be purchased, of 7 grams of concentrate, at a time.  Any individual who wishes to consume cannabis at the site of purchase can only buy up to 1 gram, or a product with 10 milligrams of THC per purchase.


Of course, it’s required that an individual looking to purchase cannabis must have a valid ID showing their age.  Currently, stores that sell cannabis in Alaska only accept cash.  While customers do not have to pay a tax on marijuana products, there is a tax of $50 per ounce for cultivators who sell their cannabis to dispensaries or manufacturers, and this tax increases the amount of cannabis products throughout the state.


Because there are no specifically designated medical dispensaries, medical patients can purchase cannabis from recreational dispensaries located throughout the state.  If a medical patient is below the age of 21, a qualified caregiver must go to the dispensary on their behalf and show proof of their status.


Please Note: At the time of this article being written, home delivery of cannabis products is outlawed in Alaska.


Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?

State law prohibits cannabis consumption in public, which means that residents can only use cannabis products at home or on other private properties, or in specific businesses that have obtained a state license to permit cannabis consumption, such as certain types of lounges and dispensaries.


Possession Laws

It’s legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time, and an ounce can be gifted but not sold to other individuals of legal age in the state.  It’s legal to carry this amount in a car, but it must be a closed container, or be in the trunk of the vehicle.  It’s important to note that in Alaska, landlords are allowed to prohibit marijuana use despite state law.


Can Residents Grow Their Own?

It is illegal for residents to grow up to 12 marijuana plants on their property, with only half of them flowering, and this is unaffected by the number of adult residents on the property.  The plants cannot be seen from public view.  There are no limits on possession when it comes to that which is grown at home, but only six plants can be transported at a time. 


Medical Marijuana

Alaska’s medical marijuana program is managed by the state’s Medical Marijuana Registry.  Patients and caregivers must apply through the state’s website in order to have authorization to purchase marijuana with a licensed medical card.


Qualifying Conditions:

  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Chronic or severe pain
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chronic muscle spasms
  • Seizures and other symptoms of epilepsy
  • Severe nausea


Patient Qualifications:

For a patient to qualify for Alaska’s medical marijuana program, they must be diagnosed with one of the above conditions by a licensed physician and receive a statement from their physician while having been examined 16 months prior to applying.  A patient who is a minor can have a parent or legal guardian undergo this process on their behalf. 

Note that in Alaska, insurance will not cover medical marijuana regardless of the diagnosis.  Employers, schools, correctional facilities, and medical facilities are not obliged to allow for marijuana consumption within their facilities due to status as a medical patient.


How to Register for Medical Marijuana in Alaska

For a patient to qualify as a medical marijuana patient, they must obtain a diagnosis of one of the above conditions from a licensed physician who confirms the diagnosis in a statement provided to the state, along with an explanation of marijuana as a suitable form of treatment.  This, along with the state’s application, must be submitted to the state along with a photocopy of your state-licensed ID.  There is a $25 registration fee.


Qualifying as a Caregiver

A caregiver must be at least 21 years of age and be a permanent state resident.  They can only care for one patient at a time, unless there are two patients who are immediate relatives or married to one another.  The caregiver cannot have a criminal record pertaining to controlled substances.


Registering as a Caregiver

To register as a caregiver, your name must be provided on the patient’s application.  There must be a sworn statement of age, a valid ID and proof that you have never been convicted of a drug-related offense.


Reciprocity Laws

Those visiting Alaska who are 21 years of age or older can legally purchase marijuana recreationally at a dispensary.  However, the state does not recognize state-issued medical cards from outside of Alaska.


Licensing Laws

The state’s MCB offers licenses to cultivators, dispensaries, processors, and testing laboratories, and requires a registration fee and renewal fee, plus an annual fee for the license.  All cannabis sold in Alaska must undergo third-party testing with the tests submitted to the state.


Frequently Asked Questions

#1: When Did Weed Become Legal in Alaska?

Recreational cannabis use has been legal in Alaska since 2014.


#2: Is it Legal to Dab in Alaska?

Dabbing is legal in Alaska, and you can purchase concentrates and dabbing paraphernalia throughout the state.


#3: Can I Grow My Own Weed in Alaska?

You are allowed to grow a certain amount of marijuana in the state as long as you keep the plants out of public view.  Up to 12 plants are permitted.


#4: Can I Use Cannabis While Driving in Alaska?

You are not permitted to consume cannabis while operating a vehicle.  This is illegal and can get you into a lot of trouble.


#5: Can I Buy Cannabis in Alaska as a Visitor?

You can purchase cannabis for recreational use as long as you have a valid ID that verifies that you are least 21 years of age.  It does not matter which state you live in, and whether or not cannabis is permitted there.