Alaska Cannabis Laws
Is Cannabis Legal In Alaska?
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Is recreational cannabis legal in Alaska?
Yes. While Alaska has been one of the most progressive states promoting cannabis consumption, legalization for recreational use has varied for the past 40 years. The first time it was deemed legal was all the way back in 1975, with the court ruling Ravin v. State, and then later re-criminalized with the passing of Measure 2 in 1990.
Recreational cannabis finally became lawful again in 2015 with the passing of Measure 2 in 2014, making Alaska the third U.S. state to allow use and sale behind Colorado and Washington.
Most recently, measures have been passed allowing marijuana smoking, vaping, and consuming edibles onsite in cannabis retail shops that have been granted consumption endorsement. Alaska is among the first U.S. states where onsite use is to be permitted.
Is Medical Marijuana legal in Alaska?
Yes. Measure 8 passed in 1998, which legalized the medical use of cannabis for patients with a doctor’s recommendation.
Medical Marijuana patients can possess up to an ounce of cannabis or grow six plants.
Are CBD products legal in Alaska?
Yes. All CBD products, including oil, are legal in Alaska as long as they are derived from hemp. Since the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States; when they contain at most 0.3% THC.
What’s Alaska’s cannabis sales tax?
Cannabis sales tax ranges within the state as Alaska does not have a state sale tax. Yet local jurisdictions can impose a sales tax.
Are there any other Alaska cannabis tax rates?
Yes. When cannabis is sold or transferred from a cultivation facility to a retail/manufacturing facility, the cultivator is liable for the tax rates: bud and flower are taxed $50/oz, the remainder of the plant taxed $15/oz.
The same excise tax applies to both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.
Is cannabis delivery legal in Alaska?
Yes. Delivery services are still subject to local limits based on time, place, and delivery manner (operating hours and delivery locations).
Alaska’s Cannabis Timeline:
1937: The Marihuana (archaic spelling of Marijuana) Tax Act was enacted banning cannabis at the federal level. Medical Marijuana use was still permitted.
1951: The Boggs Act, Sponsored by Hale Boggs and signed into law under President Harry S. Truman, This act set mandatory sentencing and increased punishment for cannabis possession.
1969: The Marihuana Tax Act is deemed unconstitutional in the landmark Leary v. United States. Timothy Leary, a professor, and activist was arrested for the possession of marijuana in violation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. Leary then challenged the act on the ground that the act required self-incrimination, which violated his Fifth Amendment rights. (The self-incrimination clause provides various protections against self-incrimination, including the right of an individual to not serve as a witness in a criminal case in which they are the defendant, better known as “Pleading the Fifth.”) The unanimous opinion of the court was penned by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Therefore, Leary’s conviction was overturned.
1970: The Controlled Substances Act is enacted (replacing the unconstitutional Marihuana Tax Act). Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, thereby prohibiting its use for any purpose. This act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
This legislation created five classifications, with specific qualifications for a substance to be included in each. The substances scheduling (classification) are determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet, Congress does have the power to schedule or de-schedule substances through legislation. Substance scheduling decisions are based on its potential for abuse, accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and international treaties.
Classification of Controlled Substances:
Schedule I: High potential of abuse, not acceptable for medical use
Schedule II: High potential of abuse, sometimes allowed with “severe restrictions” for medical use
Schedule II: Medium potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
Schedule IV: Moderate potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
Schedule V: Lowest potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
1975: Ravin v. State was a unanimous Alaska Supreme Court decision that was decided on May 27, 1975. The ASC held that the state’s constitution’s right to privacy protects all adult’s ability to use and possess a small amount of marijuana in their home for personal use. This was a landmark case as the ASC became the first (and only) state to announce constitutional privacy rights protecting possession of cannabis.
1982: The Alaska State Legislature decriminalized marijuana.
1984-1986: Mandatory Sentencing and the three-strikes law were created under the Reagan Administration. This accounts for some of the harshest drug laws created including mandatory 25-year imprisonment for certain drug offenses and the promotion of the death penalty to be used against “drug kingpins.”,
1990: Alaska Measure 2, This initiative changed Alaska’s laws by making all such possession of cannabis criminal, with possible penalties of up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1000 fine, reversing 1975’s Ravin v. State.
1998: Alaska Measure 8, passed legalizing the medical use of cannabis for patients with a doctor’s recommendation.
1998: House Joint Resolution 117, encouraged by the passing of California’s Prop 215, the House of Representatives passed this measure to support the existing Federal legal process for determining the safety and efficacy of certain drugs.
2003: Noy v. the State of Alaska, David Noy was convicted of possessing less than 8 oz of marijuana, but this completely disregarded the state’s landmark possession case Ravin v. State. Thus, the Alaska Court of Appeals overturned Noy’s conviction and struck down the part of the law criminalizing possession of less than four ounces of marijuana.
2014: Alaska Measure 2 is the successful 2014 ballot measure to tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of cannabis.
2014: The Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment passed in the U.S. House and signed into law prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.
2018: Farm bill legalizes low-THC hemp nationwide and effectively de-schedules hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act.