Alaska Marijuana Laws
On November 4, 2014, Alaska’s voters passed Measure 2 (An Act to Tax and Regulate the Production, Sale and Use of Marijuana) by a 52%-48% margin, making Alaska the fourth state to effectively legalize recreational marijuana use. Measure 2 will not go into effect until ninety (90) days after it is certified by the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska. Lawmakers anticipate that Measure 2 will become effective on or about February 2015.
Measure 2 allows for adult (21 and older) possession of up to one (1) ounce of marijuana as well as the cultivation of up to six (6) plants, three (3) of which may be flowering, in their households. These plants grown for personal use may not be visible to the public and the grower must make reasonable safeguards to keep the plants secure. Under the new law, adults may gift - but not sell - up to one (1) ounce of marijuana and up to six (6) immature plants to other adults (21 and older). Individuals aged 21 and older are also permitted to purchase up to one (1) ounce of marijuana from properly licensed and registered businesses. Consuming marijuana in public is still prohibited and carries a $100 fine. Driving under the influence of marijuana is also prohibited.
Alaska’s new law tasks the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABCB) with the initial oversight and regulation of marijuana producers, processors, wholesalers, and retailers. However, this law grants the state legislature the power to form a Marijuana Control Board at any point in time, to assume such power, duties and responsibilities governing marijuana regulation as it deems necessary. Similar to the new Oregon law, Measure 2 provides for four (4) types of marijuana businesses. “Marijuana cultivation facilities” will grow marijuana for wholesale. “Marijuana product manufacturing facilities” will produce marijuana extracts and products. “Marijuana testing facilities” will test marijuana and marijuana products for quality control before being sold to consumers. “Marijuana retail stores” will be allowed to sell marijuana and marijuana products to adults 21 and older. Measure 2 also mandates that the regulatory authority adopt rules and regulations to govern the marijuana industry in areas such as security, product safety, labeling and advertising.
Measure 2 grants local governments the authority to enact their own ordinances and regulations to govern the operational aspects of marijuana based businesses. The new law also permits local governments to ban marijuana businesses altogether, should they choose to do so, through either voter initiative or by ordinance.
Stay Informed: Due to Alaska’s unique geographical constraints, one of the major issues this state will contend with is how to regulate and effectively allow for the transportation of marijuana via air and water to the many communities that lie outside of the existing road systems in Alaska. Currently, federal law governs much of this travel and under federal law, it is illegal to possess and transport marijuana. The state has nine (9) months to establish the rules and regulations governing the marijuana industry once Measure 2 takes effect in February 2015. We will know more about this grey area of law, once the state begins drafting
those laws and regulations.
Many individuals are not aware that Alaska has a very unique history when it comes to marijuana law. In Ravin v. State, 537 P.2d 494 (Alaska 1975), the Alaska Supreme Court held that the right to possess, cultivate and consume small amounts of marijuana in the home was protected under the state Constitution’s right to privacy. Although this ruling has faced many challenges over the last forty years, Alaska courts have consistently upheld the notion that constitutional privacy protections cover the personal possession, cultivation and use of marijuana in small amounts. To this day, the Ravin Doctrine maintains a unique and unprecedented spot in decriminalization jurisprudence, as no other state or federal court opinion has ever asserted a constitutional privacy right that