23 Legal States

Alaska Medical Marijuana Facts

Alaska Medical Marijuana Statistics and Marijuana Facts

Alaska was one of the first states to approve of medical marijuana and has a curious history with the plant dating back to 1975. In 1998 58% of voters passed Ballot measure 8, which removed criminal penalties for possession, use and cultivation for patients with a doctor’s recommendation. The original ballot measure actually placed no limits on how much marijuana a person could grow or posses but it was almost immediately “corrected” by a senate bill that limited the marijuana allowed to just one ounce of usable material and 6 plants. This adjustment also created a state registry and declared registration mandatory. Applicable medical conditions are cancer, chronic pain, cachexia, epilepsy, seizures, muscle spasms, glaucoma, severe nausea and HIV/AIDS. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services is in charge of issuing medical marijuana cards to qualifying applicants.

Alaska Medical Marijuana Facts 2011:

  • Alaska’s medical marijuana law doesn’t provide any way for patients to legally acquire cannabis and there are no dispensaries in the state.
  • Statistical data and facts about medical marijuana in Alaska are extremely scarce and despite the program having exited for well over a decade there are reportedly only 379 patients in the state registry.
  • Finding a doctor willing to recommend medical cannabis in Alaska is said to be extremely hard without an intermediary. Although such doctors obviously exist, the president of the Alaska State Medical Association has recently stated that she doesn’t know of any physician who recommends cannabis to patients.
  • The program is so low key that its official information is contained in a single small page on the health department’s website.
  • Alaska patients are allowed to have a primary and a secondary caregiver able to grow and hold marijuana for them.
  • There is no publicly available data on registration patterns, number of caregivers, ages or gender of patients or their geographical concentrations.

Alaska Medical Marijuana Facts: Historical and Social Data

  • In a landmark 1975 case, the Alaska Supreme court overturned the criminalization of at-home possession of small amount of marijuana as this violated a unique feature of the state’s Constitution: an explicit right to privacy. Because of this ruling, and despite several subsequent (only partially successful) attempts by the legislature to re-criminalize such possession, the general attitude towards marijuana in Alaska is rather relaxed and a low priority for law enforcement.
  • There is anecdotal data that suggests that the extremely low number of registered patients is related to the murky status of marijuana possession and the general attitude towards it. Some patients may thus chose to remain unregistered and anonymous and use marijuana illegally since the chances of getting in trouble are lower than in many other states. However, unregistered patients are still at significant risk as they, regardless of medical necessity evidence, are barred from using an affirmative defense in court should a possession, use or cultivation charge be brought against them.