Although Alaska was one of the last states to join the country, it was one of the first to legalize medical marijuana. If you’re interested in learning how to get your Alaska medical marijuana card, it helps to understand the history of medical marijuana in the state. The following in-depth guide will explain when the medical marijuana laws in Alaska passed, what the law covers, how to apply for a medical marijuana card, and where you can find medical marijuana dispensaries.
When Did Medical Marijuana Alaska Pass?
To get the medical marijuana measure on the ballot in Alaska, a doctor-backed group called Alaskans for Medical Rights needed 24,251 signatures from registered Alaskan voters. When the group turned in the petitions to the Elections Division in January 1998, it was short by 1,068 signatures. The group was given 30 more days to collect the necessary signatures. During that extension, they were able to gather enough signatures to reach a total of 25,090.
Although the group attempted to get the announcement out on April 20, they were a day late. Instead, on April 21, the Alaska State Division of Elections announced that a measure to permit the use of medical marijuana would appear on the November ballot. On November 3, 1998, 58.67 percent of voters approved the Alaska Medical Marijuana Act, otherwise known as Measure 8.
Additionally, in 2014, voters successfully passed a ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana. On February 24, 2015, the measure officially went into effect and allowed Alaskans who are 21 and older to legally possess up to six marijuana plants and an ounce of cannabis.
Medical Marijuana in Alaska
When the doctors in the Alaskans for Medical Rights group were working toward the legalization of medical marijuana, they used several points to effectively make their case. The doctors pointed out that medical marijuana would help terminally ill patients and those with debilitating medical conditions get relief from severe pain, nausea, and other conditions. They also pointed out that physicians, who were already legally allowed to prescribe morphine, would be the ones authorized to recommend medical marijuana to patients.
They also pointed out that protective measures could be enacted to make sure the new law wasn’t abused. These protective measures could include:
- Only certain diseases and ailments would qualify
- Possession limited to small amounts
- No marijuana use allowed in public spaces
Because of these arguments, Alaskans felt comfortable passing the ballot measure.
Alaska Medical Marijuana
Measure 8 was designed to help people suffering from a debilitating medical condition get relief from the disease and its side effects. In order to qualify for an Alaska medical marijuana card, you must have a doctor’s diagnosis of one of the following medical conditions:
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
- Cachexia (Wasting syndrome)
- Chronic pain
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
How Do You Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card Online in Alaska?
To apply for a medical marijuana card in Alaska, you need to have one of the medical conditions listed above and you must be able to prove you’re a resident of the state. An Alaskan driver’s license or Alaska identification card are acceptable forms of proof of residency. Once you can prove your residency, you can follow the necessary steps to apply for an Alaska medical marijuana card.
Filling Out the Application
When you’re ready to get your medical marijuana card, you can download the required application from the state’s Department of Health and Social Services website. It’s important to make sure you read all the directions in the application and fill it out correctly. If you miss a step or fill out a section incorrectly, your application might be denied and you’ll have to wait six months before you can apply again.
When completing the application, you must provide the following information to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services:
1. The original completed application. The application needs to include your:
- Mailing address
- Physical address
- Date of birth
- Alaska driver’s license number or Alaska identification card number
- Name, address, and telephone number of your physician
- Name and address of your primary caregiver
2. If the applicant is a minor, the application must contain an original statement in writing from the parent or legal guardian that states that they consent to serve as the minor’s primary caregiver and give the minor permission to use medical marijuana.
3. The original and signed physician’s statement stating that you have been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition and your physician feels you might benefit from the use of medical marijuana.
4. The $25 application fee. If you’re renewing your medical marijuana card and it hasn’t expired yet, the renewal fee is $20.
It’s important to note that the application must have the original copies of all of these forms. Photocopies are not accepted for any form.
Once you have the application complete, you must mail it to:
Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics
P.O. Box 110699
Juneau, AK 99811-0699
Benefits of Alaska Medical Marijuana Card
Even though recreational marijuana use is legal in the state, many people still apply for a medical marijuana card because it offers several benefits. For patients under the age of 21, a medical marijuana card is a necessity. The card also offers legal protection to travel around the state no matter how local laws may change in the future.
Additionally, the state does have some cannabis clubs that only allow entry to people who have a medical marijuana card. Plus, although Alaska doesn’t recognize medical marijuana cards from other states, Michigan and Rhode Island will accept medical marijuana cards from Alaska.
Alaska Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
Since Alaska has laws in place that make recreational marijuana legal, you won’t find any state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries in Alaska. However, you will find numerous state-licensed recreational marijuana dispensaries where you can purchase your medical marijuana. The state does have some specific rules concerning how these shops can do business.
Businesses must check your identification before selling medical marijuana, so make sure you remember to bring it and your medical marijuana card. Although every shop is different, most have the marijuana behind the counter and store employees will help you pick out what you would like. You’re allowed to look at and smell the product, but you’re not allowed to touch it.
People under the age of 21 are not permitted inside the store. Therefore, if the medical marijuana is for a minor, a caregiver over the age of 21 must be the one to go inside and purchase it on behalf of the minor.
Most shops will list their current menus and prices on their website. The prices are per gram, and they typically range between $12 and $20. Keep in mind that stores are only allowed to accept cash. Although some do have an on-site ATM, not every shop does. Lastly, the state’s Department of Health and Social Services isn’t required to track customer information. However, some stores will ask for your name and other information for their own customer retention system.
Currently, Alaska law prohibits the home delivery of medical marijuana products. If you don’t live near a dispensary, you’re allowed to cultivate your own marijuana at home. The law states you’re permitted to grow and process up to six marijuana plants as long as only three or fewer are flowering at once. Additionally, if you’re cultivating marijuana at your home, the growing site must not be in public view.
Currently, state law prohibits public consumption of medical marijuana. Legal consumption is only allowed to occur on private property or in a place that has a valid on-site consumption endorsement.
Medical Marijuana and Traveling
Alaska doesn’t have any in state law in place that says how you have to travel with medical marijuana in your vehicle. However, some cities and other communities have their own laws in place. For example, in Anchorage, you need to transport your medical marijuana in the trunk of your car or behind the last rows of seats if you have no trunk. Additionally, it should be in a sealed container that you haven’t opened.
While Alaska doesn’t have any laws on how to transport medical marijuana in a car, keep in mind that other forms of transportation have their own laws you need to consider. Since there’s a disconnect between state law and federal law, taking your medical marijuana to an airport or on federal waterways is a gray area. As of right now, authorities are legally allowed to confiscate your medical marijuana if you try to take it on an airplane, the Alaska ferry system, or a cruise line. Alaska was one of the pioneering states to legalize medical marijuana. Thanks to this helpful guide, you now understand the history of medical marijuana laws, when they passed, what you need to do to apply for an Alaska medical marijuana card, and the rules for purchasing medical marijuana from dispensaries.