Yes. Both adult recreational cannabis users and card-carrying medical marijuana patients and their caregivers may possess marijuana within the confines of Alaska Laws. Under Section 17.38. of Alaska Statutes, adults aged 21 years and over may possess marijuana for recreational purposes. Per the law, adults over the age of 21 are allowed to:
Possess up to 1 oz or 28.35g of marijuana outside their private residence.
Possess up to 4 oz or 113.4g of marijuana within their private residence.
Possess no more than six marijuana plants, with three of the plants being mature marijuana plants.
Possess no more than 24 marijuana plants on a single premise that marijuana is grown, with not more than 12 being mature marijuana plants, regardless of the number of adults 21 years and older on the premise.
Similarly, Alaska Medical Marijuana permits all residents with qualifying medical conditions and valid medical marijuana registry cards and their caregivers to possess:
Possess up to one ounce or 28.35g of marijuana outside their private residence
Possess no more than six marijuana plants, with three of the plants being mature marijuana plants
The legalization of Cannabis in Alaska started in 1971. Following the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, Alaska became the second state to legalize cannabis. In 1975, based on Alaskans’ constitutional right to privacy, the Alaskan Supreme Court ruled in Ravin v. State that Alaskan adults had the right to use and possess small amounts of cannabis for personal use. That same year, the state legislature decriminalized marijuana by imposing a $100 fine for possession of marijuana, and in 1982 the fine was removed.
Then in 1986, Alaska’s Legislature proceeded to decriminalize the possession of up to one ounce (28.35 grams) of marijuana outside a private residence and up to four ounces (113.4 grams) of marijuana within a private residence.
In 1998, Alaska voters passed the Medical Marijuana Initiative or Ballot Measure 8. The Act permitted qualifying patients with physician's recommendations to possess and use limited quantities of marijuana to treat certain debilitating medical conditions. This was later accompanied in 2014 by the passage of Alaska’s Ballot Measure 2 or Alaska’s Marijuana Legislative Initiative. The measure was approved by 53% of Alaskan voters and permitted the regulation, production, sale, and use of recreational cannabis.
Possession of limited quantities of Marijuana is legal in Alaska. However, as a Schedule VI controlled substance under Alaska Law, its possession is strictly regulated. Therefore, possession of marijuana beyond the legal limits is punishable by Alaska Law. The factors that determine the extent and degree of the punishment are:
Amount of marijuana
Age of the offender
The previous criminal history of the offender
Location of the offense
For instance, an individual found with more than one ounce, but less than four ounces, of marijuana outside their private residence is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by one year in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Similarly, an individual caught with more than four ounces of marijuana is guilty of a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $50,000 fine. The state also prohibits the possession of marijuana near or on school grounds and recreational centers. Individuals caught in violation of this are guilty of a felony punishable by a $50,000 fine and up to five years in prison. Repeat offenders face more severe punishments.
A first-time offender is guilty of a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the offense. Suppose the court decides it would be in the interests of justice. In that case, the presiding judge may postpone sentencing first-time offenders for up to a year or for the maximum sentence period, whichever is longer.
Per Section 11.71 of Alaska Status, the various marijuana possession offenses and their punishments are:
The possession of one to four ounces outside the confines of a private residence is a Class A misdemeanor. This offense carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of $10,000.
Possession of four or more ounces of marijuana is a class C felony. This offense carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and a fine of $50,000.
Possessing any quantity of marijuana concentrate is misconduct involving a controlled substance in the fifth degree. Individuals found in violation of this are guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to one year in prison.
Possession within 500 feet of school grounds, a recreation or youth center, or on a school bus is a class C felony. This offense is punishable by up to five years imprisonment or a fine of up to $50,000.
Recreational marijuana may only be purchased from licensed marijuana retail stores by adults 21 years and over with a valid identification card.
Medical marijuana patients and their caregivers can only purchase marijuana from licensed marijuana retail stores. Medical marijuana purchasers are required to present their medical marijuana registry identification card.
Minors are prohibited from gaining access to medical marijuana stores. Therefore, medical marijuana purchases for minors with registry cards are carried out by their parents, guardians, or designated caregivers.
In Alaska, all marijuana transactions are cash-only transactions. Marijuana retail stores must verify the age of individuals seeking to purchase marijuana, as the sale of marijuana to an individual under the age of 19 is a felony.
Alaska enforces a stringent age restriction for the possession of marijuana. Per Section 17.38.10 of the Alaska Status, recreational marijuana may only be purchased by individuals 21 years and older.
Similarly, medical marijuana purchases can only be purchased by qualifying patients and caregivers above the age of 21. Alaska permits the consumption of medical marijuana by individuals of all ages. However, marijuana consumption by minors must be administered and supervised by an individual 21 years and older who may be the minor's parent, guardian, or designated caregiver.
Individuals may only possess one ounce or 28 grams of usable marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. In Alaska, it is illegal to possess any amount of marijuana concentrates.
Minors caught in violation of any of these laws are guilty of a civil offense. Such individuals may be placed on probation and made to undergo counseling. Minors caught driving under the influence of marijuana may have their license revoked.
Similarly, individuals who sell or deliver marijuana to minors are guilty of a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. Individuals under 21 who falsify their identification to gain access to a marijuana dispensary may be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by a $400 fine.
Up to six mature marijuana plants, no more than three of which are matured marijuana plants. Alaska mandates those who grew marijuana to take all necessary safety measures to ensure the plants are in a secure area with limited access.
Furthermore, persons growing marijuana must ensure cultivation occurs in a spot hidden from public view. Alaska law further stipulates that marijuana growing is only permitted on property lawfully owned by the cultivator or with permission from the owner.
If these restrictions are broken while still being in accordance with AS 17.38.020, a fine of up to $750 may be imposed. Marijuana cultivation in the home for personal use is protected conduct by the right-to-privacy provision in their state constitution.
Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level as such transportation of marijuana across state lines is technically illegal. Most airlines in Alaska prohibit the transportation of marijuana on their flights. Pilots who knowingly carry cannabis on a flight risk losing their certification. The Transport Security Administration (TSA) will report cases of marijuana possession to the local police. Despite this restriction, individuals may fly with medical marijuana, provided they follow the TSA’s instructions on medical marijuana.
No. Eligible adults are permitted to be high in public. However, individuals exhibiting disorderly conduct as a result of marijuana intoxication may be arrested by police. Individuals may also be arrested for performing certain activities while under the influence of marijuana.
For instance, individuals caught driving while under the influence of marijuana may have their license seized. Similarly, the operation of any machinery, including boats and ATVs, under the influence of marijuana is also illegal.
Alaska does not have any legal limit for THC allowed in an individual body. Therefore, individuals visibly showing signs of intoxication may be arrested by the police and face DUI charges.