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Personal Use and Possession of Marijuana in Alaska, What You Should Know



February 25, 2015
Wednesday PM

(SitNews) - Due to interest in the subject regarding the new marijuana law in Alaska which went into effect Tuesday, Governor Bill Walker provided a summary to accurately explain the current law in the state. As of February 24, 2015, people in Alaska age 21 and over can legally possess, outside of their homes, up to an ounce of marijuana and can grow up to six plants in their home (with up to three being mature, flowering plants). Adults may also give up to an ounce of marijuana and up to six plants to another adult.

Marijuana plants
Photo courtesy

According to information provided by the Governor in a news release, private consumption in Alaska will be completely legal for adults, although public consumption remains illegal.

February 24th is also the start of a nine-month rulemaking process for the State of Alaska to craft rules around the commercial aspects of legalization. Governor Bill Walker (I) introduced a bill on Monday to the Alaska State Legislature that would, if passed, create a Marijuana Control Board. That board will work with the public, stakeholders, municipal governments, and the Legislature to craft rules that best protect public health and public safety for Alaskans and its visitors.

Housed under the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, the Marijuana Control Board will be tasked with developing regulations covering all aspects of marijuana cultivation, processing, and commercial sale, including rules about marijuana concentrates, edible products, and packaging. The proposed legislation will give the board significant authority, including peace officer powers, to ensure that marijuana laws are enforced effectively and consistently. The Marijuana Control Board will include representatives from the public health and safety sectors, industry, and the general public, and will share administrative and enforcement resources with the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.

Alaska statutes and regulations will control legal issues related to marijuana.

The state has nine more months to create regulations for a commercial marijuana industry where marijuana will be sold and taxed.

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee introduced legislation which deals with the licensing and taxation of marijuana-related operations. Senate Bill 62 is regulatory legislation intended to work in conjunction with Senate Bill 30, which decriminalizes marijuana in Alaska’s statutes, as well as Senate Bill 60, which sets up the Marijuana Control Board. SB62 also clarifies vague or omitted information from the voter initiative passed last November related to licensing and taxation matters and reinforces the concept that commercial marijuana licenses are a privilege, not a right.

“The bill represents another piece in the puzzle we must solve as we work to build a strong framework for the commercialization of marijuana in Alaska,” said Senate Judiciary Chair Lesil McGuire, R-Anchorage. “I think this bill helps provide Alaskans with the answers to questions they’ve had for a while: Who can grow and sell Marijuana? Where can it be sold and grown? How will I know how potent it is? And what are we doing to keep it out of the hands of kids?”

One of the major purposes of the bill is to put regulations in place to protect children. The legislation includes provisions to require retailers to put all marijuana products, including edibles, in child-proof containers before the items leave the store or other licensed location. The packaging must also be clearly labeled and may not be marked or designed in a way which could entice kids. The bill also bans issuing licenses to a marijuana retailer if the business would be located within 200 feet of school grounds, churches with regularly scheduled services, or correctional facilities.

SB62 also defines rules regarding potency. Under the legislation, the potency as well as a certification of safety must be included on the container of any marijuana products. Also, individual doses of edible marijuana can only contain 10 milligrams or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and each dose must be individually wrapped. The bill also states the Marijuana Control Board must adopt regulations regarding the potency, safety, and medical characteristics of medical marijuana.

The bill seeks to clarify that any marijuana operations, whether growing or selling, shall be licensed by the State rather than registered. In addition, the bill sets out what kinds of licenses can be issued including: marijuana producer license, marijuana processor license, marijuana retailer license, marijuana boutique producer license, marijuana broker license, and marijuana home grower license. The bill also states the Commissioner for Department of Environmental Conservation shall inspect and certify all marijuana testing facilities.

SB62 also specifies that in order to be licensed to sell marijuana in Alaska, the person must be a resident of the state for at least a year. If it’s a corporation or partnership, anyone with more than a 10-percent stake of the business must be a resident. In addition, the bill calls for the Board to require fingerprints and criminal background checks as part of the licensing application process.

“Our responsibility is to prioritize public safety and align our criminal statutes,” said Senator John Coghill, R-North Pole. “The Judiciary Committee has done an excellent job of reviewing, in a disciplined manner, all marijuana issues thus far. I expect that to continue.”

“I know our committee members are working really hard to get this right,” said Senator McGuire. “There are more issues to deal with and work to be done, but I am confident we have the right group of people heading in the right direction to carry out the intent of the voters while protecting our communities and our children.”

SB62 was referred to the Senate State Affairs, Labor and Commerce, and Finance Committees for further consideration.

According to a news release from the Governor, this is what you should know now about personal use and possession of marijuana in Alaska.

Who is allowed to use marijuana?

Anyone over the age of 21 is allowed to possess or consume marijuana. This includes state residents and adults visiting from other states. It is illegal to sell or give to minors under the age of 21. It is the public policy of this State that marijuana is not safe for children.

What types of marijuana products are legal?

Adults 21 years of age and older can possess marijuana flowers (the “buds”); marijuana concentrates, such as oils, hashes, and waxes; and a wide variety of marijuana-infused products, such as edibles, tinctures, and topicals. However, until the commercial laws are in place, these products cannot be legally purchased or sold in Alaska.

How much marijuana are you allowed to possess, and where do you obtain it?

Adults 21 years of age and older can possess up to one ounce of marijuana when outside their personal residence. In their private residences, adults 21 years of age and older are allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants, where no more than three are mature and flowering, as well as the yield of those plants in the location where it was grown.

Gift from Another Adult: Adults 21 years of age and older can give up to one ounce of marijuana to other adults 21 years of age and older as long as it does not require any form of compensation. It is illegal to sell (or re-sell) any amount of marijuana without an official business license.

Home Growing: Adults 21 years of age and older are allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants (including up to three flowering plants) in their households. It is legal to possess the yield of the plants in the location where it was produced. In other words, it is legal to privately possess more than one ounce of marijuana in your home IF you grew it yourself. Otherwise, you can only possess up to one ounce of marijuana.

Retail Marijuana Stores: Are not legal until rulemaking concludes and licenses are issued. Operating a commercial marijuana establishment is currently illegal.
Where am I allowed to consume marijuana?

Keep it private - Marijuana usage is not allowed in public.

It is legal for adults to consume marijuana privately, such as inside residences, although some property owners or homeowners associations may have policies that prohibit it. It is illegal to consume marijuana in public places, such as on streets and sidewalks or in public parks or on federal land. Violating public use laws could result in fines and other legal penalties. Therefore, you should exercise caution and check your local laws prior to consuming marijuana in any place that might be construed as public, such as hotel rooms or privately-owned businesses that are open to the public.

Don’t consume and drive.

Driving while impaired is illegal; it doesn’t matter what substance you are on.
If you are not sure whether you are impaired, do not drive!
Can I lose my job or face other collateral consequences
for using marijuana?

Just because it is legal to possess and use marijuana in the state of Alaska does not mean it is legal to use at the workplace, or to go to work after consuming it. Testing positive for THC in your system while working in certain industries is cause for dismissal. Know your employer's drug policy. Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, using it can result in loss of certain benefits, such as public housing assistance and college financial aid.

Can you travel with marijuana?

Federal laws make it is illegal to transport marijuana on ships, trains, and airplanes. Keep it legal and in Alaska.

Lock it up.

If children are likely to be in your home, store your marijuana in a place where they cannot get it. If you have teenagers, you should consider going a step further and locking it up, much like you would a liquor cabinet. And, of course, you should never purchase marijuana for or in any way provide it to someone under 21 years of age.

Be respectful.

Permitting the commercial production, transportation and use of marijuana is a new experience for Alaska; quoting the Govern's news release, you are asked to be respectful of your neighbors and coworkers while the laws are developing. "We all want to have laws that work to keep us safe".

Never give anyone a marijuana-infused product without their knowledge; it could result in serious problems for that person and others.


Source of News: 

Office of the Governor

Senate Judiciary Committee

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