Alaska officially became the third U.S. state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for personal use of adult of 21 years of age or more. This happened after the 53% of state voters approved it in November of 2015. The provision allows adult of 21 years of age or more to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and to grow up to six marijuana plants within their premises.
The evolution of Alaska marijuana laws can be dated back to 1972 when Attorney Irwin Ravin was accosted by the police in Anchorage while driving with his car’s taillight broken. During that time, Ravin was also found in possession of marijuana but refused the signing of a ticket. He appealed his case, and three years after, the case was raised to the Alaska Supreme Court. In his defense, he requested using the right to privacy as his rallying point, and it paid off. The high court ruled in his favor, and hence, Alaska, in virtue, became the first state to legalize the in-home use of marijuana. This previous Supreme Court’s decision became the basis for the subsequent 1998 legalization of the use of marijuana for medical use.
Alaska Medical Laws on Marijuana
November 3, 1998, marked the approval of Ballot Measure 8. This measure allowed patients who carry a letter of recommendation from a licensed physician to possess, use, and cultivate marijuana for medical use legally. Moreover, to have full legal protections in using marijuana for medical use, a patient must register oneself with the state patient registry. The patient should also apply to the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics to avail of a medical marijuana card as indicated in the Senate Bill 94 amendment of June 2, 1999.
The conditions approved for the medical use of marijuana in the state include cachexia, cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, glaucoma, HIV or AIDS, Multiple sclerosis, and many other medical conditions. The legislative likewise updated the Alaska Statute Title 17 Chapter 37, allowing for the creation of a confidential statewide registry of caregivers and marijuana patients.
The Drug Laws of Alaska
You should have an overview of the Drug laws of Alaska to ensure that you would not run afoul of the law in that state. The evolution of the laws on marijuana, as mentioned above started in 1975. Then in 1982, marijuana had been decriminalized; in 1990, however, it was re-criminalized, only to be decriminalized again in 2003. In 2014, the legislature of Alaska voted to tax and regulate marijuana production, sale, and eventual use. This measure, named “Alaska Measure 2” took effect on February 24 of 2015, which allowed Alaskans aged 21 and above to possess marijuana up to an ounce and to plant up to six plants.
In 2016, Alaska government was able to collect and raise up to $80,000 in taxes from cannabis. The taxes on marijuana include $50/oz for cannabis buds and $15/oz for stems and leaves. In 2017, there was a legislative proposal to ban stores and shops from advertising marijuana discounts to military personnel who are in active duty.
The recreational use of marijuana in Alaska for adults aged 21 and above is legal. However, there are certain prerequisites and limitations to this provision. First, it is illegal to use marijuana in public. Second, you are not allowed to give marijuana to minors. You can also be charged with a crime if you are driving under the influence (DUI); hence, you are not allowed to drive if you are high on marijuana. Moreover, adults aged 21 and above can possess and grow marijuana plants up to six plants, and only three of these plants should be flowering at one time. Here are some basic penalties regarding the possession and distribution of marijuana beyond what the laws prescribe:
- If you are found with 1 to 4 oz of marijuana in your residence, you will have no offense.
- If you are caught with 1 to 4 oz of marijuana outside, you will be charged with a misdemeanor and up to 1-year imprisonment, plus $10,000 maximum fine.
- For 4 oz or more, you will be charged with a felony, plus up to 5 years of imprisonment, and $50,000 maximum fine.
- For any amount within 500 feet from school grounds or recreational centers, you will be charged with felony, plus 5 years of imprisonment, and $50,000 maximum fine.
- If you are caught with any amount of marijuana with the intent to distribute, you will be charged with a misdemeanor, 1 year of imprisonment, and $10,000.
- Lastly, if you caught with 1 oz or more, your charge will be felony, 5 years of imprisonment, and up to $50,000 fine.
Can Employers Demand Drug Tests on their Employees?
Alaska legislature has promulgated laws governing drug tests at work, and like in other states, it is permissible for employers to require drug testing under certain conditions and as long as employers comply with the procedural rules. Employers likewise can require job applicants to undergo drug tests as long as it is the job-related purpose and based on the terms and policy of the employers. Employers can require employees to undergo drug tests under the following conditions:
- On reasonable suspicion for drug use
- To maintain the level of safety, quality, productivity, and security within the workplace
- As part of an investigation over an accident within the workplace
Thirty-day notice to the employees and a statement of written policy are generally required from the employers. Confidentially likewise on the test results should be practiced. Drug testing also is considered under work time. Onside testing is neither prohibited nor it is mandatory.