Are you a medical marijuana patient facing state charges in Alaska?
If you are arrested for a marijuana offense and the prosecutor files charges, you will first face an arraignment, where you will plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead not guilty, you will have various motions hearings and eventually you may go to trial before a jury or judge, and the process may take a significant amount of time. Use a Public Defender or private attorney, and feel free to have her or him contact us at email@example.com to discuss trial strategy.
Alaska's Measure 8, a statutory ballot initiative, originally passed with 58% of the vote on November 3, 1998, and was then modified by S.B. 94 in 1999. Alaska's current medical marijuana law can be found in Alaska Statutes 17:37.
Alaskan law allows a patient with a physician's statement (also known as a recommendation) and registry identification card to possess 1 oz. of processed bud, 3 mature plants, and 3 immature plants.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services registry identification card is mandatory in order to assert a medical marijuana affirmative defense in state court, and a valid physician's statement must note that the patient was examined "in the context of a bona fide physician-patient relationship", that the patient has been diagnosed with a "debilitating medical condition", that other approved medications were "considered", and that the patient "might benefit from the medical use of marijuana".
A medical marijuana patient may have 1 primary caregiver (who is a person who has not been convicted of certain felonies and is not on parole or probation) and 1 alternate caregiver who may serve only 1 patient at a time, unless the additional patients are related to the caregiver. In Alaska, a "debilitating medical condition" is:
An Alaskan patient may not use medicine in plain view of, or in a place open to, the general public. Medical use of marijuana does not have to be accommodated in any place of employment; in any correctional facility, medical facility, or state-administered facility; on a school bus; on or within 500 ft. of school grounds; and at or within 500 feet of a recreation or youth center. Distribution can only occur between patient and caregiver.
For more information, see How to Become a Patient in Alaska.
Another important resource is the website, which has a Marijuana Application Packet that includes a registry identification card application, primary and alternate caregiver applications, and a draft physician's statement.
Additionally, while ASA is unaware of any current precedential Alaskan caselaw supporting the return of marijuana to a patient if there is a lack of probable cause, it might be possible for a Alaskan patient to get his or her legal amount of medicine back from law enforcement if it was wrongfully seized and the criminal case has not been prosecuted or has been dismissed. For more information on how this type of process works in California, take a look at our Return of Property page. You and your Public Defender or private attorney can use the Alaskan Return of Property Statute and attempt to apply the reasoning of the California Motion for Return of Property, and create a similar Alaskan motion. For more information on filing this motion, contact ASA's Legal Services Coordinator.
Another interesting note in Alaskan law, which is distinct from every other state and the District of Columbia, is that non-medical/recreational possession of 1 oz. of marijuana is probably legal in Alaska. In 1975, the Alaska Supreme Court established this right in Ravin v. Alaska 527 P.2d 494 (Alaska 1975), and subsequent decisions have reaffirmed it, such as the recent 2006 Alaska Superior Court decision in ACLU of Alaska, Jane Doe, and Jane Roe v. State of Alaska (which is currently on appeal to the Alaska Supreme Court). The status of non-medically/recreationally possessing 1-4 oz. of marijuana is unclear, pending clarification by the courts. Additionally, as a result of the Ravin v. Alaska decision, in 2004, an Alaskan appellate court decided State v. Crocker 97 P.3d 93 (Alaska App., 2004), which is relevant to both medical and non-medical marijuana users, as the court ruled that police cannot execute a search warrant in a house for < 4 oz. of marijuana, unless the State affirmatively establishes probable cause that the marijuana is not for personal use.
Make sure you give all of this information to your Public Defender or private attorney and discuss it with her or him, and also that you and your lawyer continue to research whether there is any new caselaw in your state regarding medical marijuana. For information about how to find a lawyer familiar with medical marijuana law in your state, contact local activists to see if they have any information at Local Resources.