Alaska Medical Marijuana

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What is Medical Marijuana in Alaska?

Medical marijuana in Alaska refers to any part of the marijuana plant used to treat health-related issues. The active ingredients in marijuana include cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These ingredients can serve as unconventional therapy for chronic medical conditions when prepared in varying percentages and formulations.

According to Alaska Medical Marijuana Act, only qualifying patients with debilitating health conditions can obtain and use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Notably, all medical conditions do not qualify for the use of medical marijuana. Only patients with a state-licensed physician's recommendation and medical marijuana card (MMJ card) are eligible to purchase, possess, and grow medical cannabis in the state of Alaska. An MMJ card is applied for through the state marijuana registry under the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Alaska?

Yes. In 1998, Alaska voters approved Measure 8, also called the Alaska Medical Marijuana Initiative, to legalize medical marijuana in the state. Measure 8 permitted patients with medical marijuana recommendations from qualified healthcare practitioners to possess and use up to 1 ounce of cannabis. Although the state does not have an official medical marijuana program like other states in the United States, medical marijuana patients are still required to apply to be added to the Medical Marijuana Registry. The state's medical marijuana registry is overseen by the Bureau of Vital Statistics under the Department of Health and Social Services. In Alaska, medical marijuana can be purchased as vape oils, tinctures, whole flowers, concentrates, capsules, tablets, and edibles.

Who Can Get Medical Marijuana in Alaska?

Alaskans suffering from one or more eligible health conditions can legally obtain and use medical marijuana after getting medical marijuana recommendations from qualified physicians. Eligible health conditions for which healthcare providers may recommend medical marijuana in Alaska include:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cancer
  • Positive status for HIV
  • AIDS
  • Cachexia
  • Severe pain
  • Severe nausea
  • Seizures
  • Epilepsy
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Any other medical conditions or treatment for such condition approved by the Department of Health and Social Services

Note that out-of-state medical marijuana patients are not allowed to purchase medical marijuana in Alaska.

Can You Grow Medical Marijuana in Alaska?

You may grow a maximum of six marijuana plants at home, of which no more than three may be mature at any one time, provided you are 21 or older. If two or more adults reside in a household, no more than 12 cannabis plants may be cultivated, of which only 6 may be mature at any one time. Growing marijuana is only permitted if you cultivate the plants for personal medical use. Alaskans are prohibited from growing marijuana at home with the intention of selling the cultivated plants. All grown plants are required to be hidden from the public and must be inaccessible to minors. Appropriate measures must also be taken to mitigate the odor emanating from the cultivation space. Caregivers are also limited to cultivating the same maximum cannabis plants as qualified patients.

Alaska requires that marijuana be grown only on personal properties. If you live in a rented unit, it is crucial that you obtain permission from your property manager or landlord before commencing grow operations.

Do You Need to See a Doctor to Get Medical Marijuana in Alaska?

Yes. Alaska requires that applicants seeking medical marijuana cards consult with doctors before submitting applications for inclusion in the Alaska medical marijuana registry. During your visit to the healthcare practitioner, it is recommended that you take your medical records along. The healthcare practitioner will ask several questions and assess whether you suffer from any of the approved debilitating conditions. On determining that you qualify, the healthcare practitioner will issue you an attestation stating that:

  • The medical assessment occurred in the context of a bona fide physician-patient relationship and include the medical assessment date
  • You have been diagnosed and verified to suffer from a debilitating medical condition
  • The physician has considered other available medications and treatments that may provide relief but has concluded that you will benefit from the medical use of marijuana

Alaska does not currently maintain a publicly available database for healthcare practitioners licensed to issue medical marijuana certifications. Any healthcare practitioner in good standing and licensed to practice medicine in the state may issue medical marijuana certification.

Can a Minor Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Alaska?

Minors in Alaska can legally use medical marijuana through the assistance of designated caregivers who are approved to obtain and administer medical marijuana on their behalf. Before designating a caregiver, a minor must obtain a medical marijuana attestation from a qualified healthcare practitioner in the state. Besides the physician's statement approving medical marijuana use, a minor must also submit a statement by the caregiver declaring the caregiver's awareness of the potential risks and benefits of medical marijuana and consent to serve as the minor's primary caregiver.

How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in Alaska

To obtain a medical marijuana card in Alaska, you must provide the following in your application:

  • The original completed copy of the medical marijuana registry application form
  • The original, signed form of the physician's attestation stating that you qualify for medical marijuana use
  • An original statement written by your parent or guardian residing in Alaska stating that the parent or guardian consents to serve as your caregiver and consent to your use of medical marijuana. This statement is only required if you are a minor
  • The application fee of $25
  • A photocopy of your State of Alaska-issued driver's license or Alaska identification card

Submit completed application to:

Health Analytics and Vital Records

Medical Marijuana Registry

P.O. Box 110699

Juneau, AK 99811-0699

In the application, you must provide your attending physician's name, address, and phone number. If you are designating a caregiver, the individual's name, address, and phone number will also be required. You may use "Return Receipt Service" for mailing your application to ensure that the Bureau of Vital Statistics receives your application and fee. It may take up to 5 weeks for the application to be reviewed by the Department of Health and Social Services. Upon the approval of your application, the medical marijuana card will arrive in the mail, usually within 2 weeks. Note that if your application is denied, you will not be able to apply again for at least six months.

For more inquiries on obtaining a medical marijuana card in Alaska, call the medical marijuana registration unit at (907) 465-5423.

Does Alaska Allow Medical Marijuana Patients to Designate Caregivers?

Yes. Alaska's medical marijuana laws permit caregivers to access medical marijuana on behalf of minors and incapacitated adults. Caregivers are adult Alaskans who have agreed to help qualified medical marijuana patients with the use of medical marijuana within the state's borders. Alaska allows a qualified patient to designate a primary caregiver and an alternate caregiver. To be eligible as a primary or alternate caregiver for a qualified medical marijuana patient in Alaska, the individual:

  • Must be aged 21 or older
  • Must not have been found guilty of a felony offense pursuant to AS 11.71,AS 11.73, or a law or ordinance of another jurisdiction with elements similar to an offense under AS 11.71 or AS 11.73
  • Must not currently be on parole or probation in Alaska or another jurisdiction

An individual may only serve as a primary or alternate caregiver for one qualified patient per time unless the individual is concurrently caring for two or more qualified patients related to the caregiver by a minimum of a fourth-degree kinship by blood or marriage. The State of Alaska requires primary caregivers to apply for primary caregiver cards and alternate caregivers must also apply for alternate caregiver cards.

What is the Cost of an Alaska Medical Marijuana Card?

A medical marijuana card in Alaska costs $25. This medical marijuana card fee may be paid using a check or money order made out to the Bureau of Vital Statistics. The medical marijuana card fee is nonrefundable. It costs $20 to renew an Alaska medical marijuana card. Note that you will pay a consultation fee at your appointment with the healthcare practitioner. Typically, the consultation fee ranges between $100 and $250.

What Do You Need When Visiting a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Alaska?

You must visit a marijuana dispensary in Alaska with your medical marijuana card and a valid identification card to legally purchase medical marijuana.

How to Renew Your Alaska Medical Marijuana Card

The Alaska medical marijuana card is valid for 12 months. It is advised that you renew the card prior to expiration. The renewal process closely mirrors the initial application process. However, the renewal fee is $20 instead of the initial application fee of $25.

Is it Possible to Overdose on Cannabis in Alaska?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on marijuana even for medical use, but according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there is no record of fatal overdose in Alaska. When compared to other drugs, overdose on marijuana will likely not be fatal, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Using cannabis will most unlikely lead to an overdose; however, just like every drug, abuse of marijuana is a risk factor for an overdose, even if it is mild. When a user overdoses on marijuana, they may experience the following side effects, including:

  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety and other changes in mood
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia and panic attacks
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Thirstiness or a dry mouth (aka "cottonmouth")
  • Concentration problems
  • Slower reaction times
  • Dry eyes

It is important to note that overdosing on marijuana with a high THC level may have more severe and lasting effects. The patient must get the right amount of recommendation from their physician to prevent an overdose.

If I am Pregnant, Can I Use Cannabis to Relieve Nausea in Alaska?

No, pregnant women are advised against the use of cannabis while pregnant and even after birth in Alaska. The chemicals, especially tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana, have been associated with an increased risk of problems that may be experienced during pregnancy. Many pregnant women get nauseous during pregnancy and may resort to medically using marijuana to stop it. The FDA also advises pregnant women to avoid using vaping devices, as it poses the same risk to the unborn child like it's being smoked. The active ingredient in marijuana which is THC, is also present in the water vapor. Also, this includes usage through eating, drinking, creams, or dabbing cannabis. Using marijuana while pregnant can cause related health problems for the baby, like low birth weight. Also, marijuana contains the same chemicals as tobacco smoke; smoking cannabis while pregnant increases the chances of developmental problems for the baby. The other associated risk includes:

  • Small head circumference
  • Small length
  • Stillbirth

Pregnant women suffering from nausea episodes can consult with their doctors for a healthier option in dealing with it.

Alaska Medical Marijuana
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