How to Buy and Enjoy Cannabis Legally in Alaska
This summer will be Alaska’s fifth tourist season with a legal cannabis industry. For out-of-state visitors, here’s the truth about what you can and can’t do in the midnight sun.
(For more resources, the State of Alaska has a manual available for download on responsible marijuana use.)
In Alaska, anyone 21 years of age or older can own up to one ounce of cannabis for their personal use. You can be gifted or donate up to an ounce.
Public consumption of cannabis is not permitted under state law – leaving parks, playgrounds, and roads unavailable as a smoking area for out-of-state visitors. If you get caught you are liable to a fine of up to $ 100.
Peter Christian, spokesperson for the National Park Service, said if you get caught with a pimple you could face a federal citation. In 2020, there were no arrests for cannabis in the Denali National Park and Preserve, Christian said, with 14 verbal warnings.
Consuming cannabis is legal on private property, but only if the owners allow it – so check your hotel policy. If you stay a tan Airbnb or other vacation rental, it is best to ask your host in advance what their policy is.
The state of Alaska approved regulations allowing on-site consumption in cannabis retail stores in 2018, but years later efforts to set up “cannabis salons” have been slow, recently complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To date, there is at least one store allowing consumption on site: Good titles‘smoking area opened on April 21, 2021, in Fairbanks. There is a lounge area with a coffee bar, and guests can purchase up to one gram of flower each day.
Alaska has Kotzebue pot stores in Ketchikan. Some sell prepackaged buds, others are deli type: allowing customers to choose the green of their choice so their budtender can weigh them and wrap them in front of them.
Stores only accept cash, but stores usually have an ATM that customers can use for a small fee. Alaska law requires businesses to verify your ID – some do this twice – so make sure you have it on hand.
Most stores have online menus that you can browse. Some offer an online ordering option, but no delivery, and you still have to pay in cash.
Tipping is not mandatory, but is appreciated by budtenders.
The mooring law states that people must carry grass in the trunk of their cars. If the car does not have a trunk, the purchase should be stowed behind the last row of seats. Make sure to keep your bud in its sealed container; you could still get in trouble with the law if it is opened, even if it was opened by a passenger.
Neither passengers nor drivers may smoke in the vehicle. If you drive under the influence, you could get a DUI.
According to the Anchorage Police Department, if anyone is suspected of being drug impaired, a drug recognition officer will be called to investigate further. DPA’s Renee Oistad said in an email that the driver would be asked to take a field sobriety test.
If there is a “probable cause” for the impaired driving, APD will transport the person to Anchorage Jail for a breathalyzer test.
Those who refuse the breath test could be charged with an additional felony, Oistad wrote.
The rules for possessing cannabis vary depending on how you move around the state. On federal waterways, the US Coast Guard retains jurisdiction.
U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Evan Rothfeld has said possession of cannabis – for any purpose – remains illegal at the federal level.
“The US Coast Guard, as the federal law enforcement agency, will enforce federal marijuana laws,” Rothfield said in an email.
But the Alaska Marine Highway System, operated by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said it was not actively seeking out passengers in possession, Sam Dapcevich said.
Lt. Krag Campbell of the Juneau Police Department said JPD will not confiscate marijuana from people trying to steal with weed. But the TSA still doesn’t allow you to travel with them through security checkpoints, he said.
“JPD will just ask the passenger to do something with it before they are cleared through the screening checkpoint,” Campbell wrote in an email.