When you think of the marijuana industry in America, the state of Alaska probably doesn’t come to mind immediately. However, this great state has an incredible marijuana culture, and an interesting history of how it came to be that way.
If you’re interested in learning about Alaska cannabis and the history of how it came to be, you’re at the right place. From the early days, to the legalization, to the current best Alaska cannabis, this is your guide to the history of marijuana in Alaska.
Early History of Alaska Cannabis
Alaska has a much earlier history of marijuana laws than many states, and it’s been an interesting roller coaster ride of laws, court cases, and criminalization.
Because of Alaska’s remote location, the state has regularly done its own thing and state laws weren’t always clear to the rest of the country. In the 1930s Henry Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, said that even he wasn’t sure about Alaska’s marijuana laws.
The first official laws regarding the legality of cannabis in Alaska came about in the 1970s when Alaska became just the second state to decriminalize marijuana on May 16, 1975. Possession of cannabis was punishable by just a $100 fine and no criminal charges. Later that same year, in the court case Ravin v. State, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that Alaskans had a state right to privacy which allowed them to possess and consume a small amount of marijuana for personal use in the home. This ruling essentially legalized cannabis in Alaska. In 1982, that $100 fine for possession outside of the home was dropped, making it even more “legal” to possess marijuana.
However, starting in the late 1980s and culminating in 1990, public opinion a law towards marijuana possession began to turn. 1989 a petition circulated to recriminalize cannabis, and resulted in a vote. Ballot measure 2, which made cannabis illegal once again, passed in 1990 with 54.3% of the vote. As a result, possession of 8 ounces or less of marijuana, which was previously legal, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a $1,000 fine.
In 1998, voters approved the use of medical marijuana by 59% of voters. This allowed those with authorization from a doctor to possess up to an ounce of cannabis or grow up to six plants. This success gave cannabis advocates a platform to begin pushing for recreational legalization yet again.
In 2000, recreational cannabis was on the ballot, but measure 5 failed to pass, garnering only 41% of the vote. In 2004, it was back in the voters’ hands, but yet again failed to pass, this time with nearly 45% of the vote, showing progress but not quite enough.
During this time, another court case, Noy v. State, decriminalized possession of under four ounces of marijuana in 2003, with the Alaska Supreme Court citing the previous ruling from Ravin v. State, in 1975. However, in 2006, a measure pushed by anti-drug Republican governor Frank Murkowski passed legislation, making possession of under four ounces of marijuana once again a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail. The law also made possession of over four ounces of marijuana a felony, further criminalizing the use of cannabis.
Current History of Cannabis in Alaska
In 2014, the legalization of recreational marijuana made its way to the ballot for the third time. This time, Measure 2 passed with 53% of the vote, finally making cannabis use legal without any grey area. Alaska became just the third state to legalize recreational marijuana, following Colorado and Washington.
The law went into effect in February of 2015, allowing for the state-regulated sale of cannabis in dispensaries. It also allows anyone 21 years of age and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to 6 plants for personal use.
In 2019, Alaska became the first state to legalize onsite consumption of marijuana at licensed locations. This allows for the consumption of marijuana at licensed establishments, as long as the area where it is consumed is separate from where it is purchased, for example, a patio outside of the dispensary. Public consumption is still illegal.
If you’re planning on buying cannabis in Alaska, always make sure to bring your ID to the dispensary. Purchasing marijuana is strictly for those 21 years old and up, and they’ll be scanning those IDs no matter how old you look.
Laws regarding cannabis consumption vary depending on the city or community in Alaska. You cannot possess cannabis on any federal land (which Alaska has a lot of) since it’s still illegal under federal law, so don’t take it into any national parks. It’s also illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, or operate any heavy machinery under the influence. If you’re visiting, always be sure to check with your hotel, landlord, or Airbnb host regarding the local laws (or their personal rules) regarding marijuana consumption inside.
Where to Find the Best Alaska Cannabis
Following the legalization of recreational marijuana, growers and dispensaries began popping up all over Alaska. This isn’t surprising considering that even before legalization, Alaska had one of the highest rates of marijuana use in the country, especially among those aged 26 and over.
So if you’re looking for the best Alaska cannabis, you have a lot of options to choose from. There are plenty of quality cannabis strains grown right here in Alaska. From White Widow to Ace of Spades to strains appropriately named Northern Lights and Alaska Ice, you won’t struggle to find great cannabis here.
Anchorage is the most populated city in Alaska, and as such it has plenty of quality dispensaries around. Luckily for you, if you’re looking for the best cannabis dispensary in Anchorage, the choice is simple.
Alaska Green Light District, also known as AKGLD, began in 2016 from a dream and a passion for cultivating and enjoying cannabis in Alaska. Since then, it’s become the primary destination in Anchorage for the best cannabis grown around the state.
Whether you’re simply visiting and want to explore the great cannabis strains have to offer, or you’ve lived in Alaska for years, AKGLD is your destination for cannabis in Anchorage, Alaska.
“Marijuana has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming and addictive. Marijuana impairs concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under its influence. There are health risks associated with consumption of marijuana. For use only by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of reach of children. Marijuana should not be used by women who are pregnant or breast feeding.”