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Becoming a Medical Marijuana Patient in Alaska

David Bowman

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Any patient with a valid registry card may legally use marijuana for medicinal purposes and their caregiver may assist them in doing so. You can possess paraphernalia associated with growing or consuming marijuana for medical use. All patients MUST enroll in the state patient registry and possess a valid identification card in order to be legally protected. A copy of a registry identification card is not valid. A damaged card is not valid.

You cannot be arrested or penalized simply for applying for a medical marijuana ID card.

What's Allowed
Between you and your caregiver, you can legally possess six marijuana plants, only three of which may be mature enough to bear usable marijuana, plus one ounce of marijuana in usable form. If you violate these limits, they can keep you off the registry for one year.

Eligible conditions include: Cancer, glaucoma, HIV, or AIDS. Plus any of the following symptoms that are caused by a chronic or debilitating disease, or the treatment of such disease: cachexia, severe pain, severe nausea, seizures, or persistent muscle spasms. Your doctor must believe marijuana will relieve these symptoms. Alaska may add other conditions to this list.

You cannot legally purchase medical marijuana in Alaska. The only legal way to get marijuana is for you or your caregiver grow it. The state will not help you with this, or provide seeds or starter plants. Dispensing collectives or cooperatives are allowed by the Alaska medical marijuana laws.

You are only allowed to transport marijuana directly to or from your primary caregiver, or directly to a place where you can legally have or use it (i.e. from the garden to your home). So you can't walk around with an ounce in your pocket all the time. Obviously, you can't sell or give your marijuana to anyone else.

Don't be dangerous (i.e., don't drive under the influence), and don't be obvious (i.e., don't smoke in public or flash your stash). That is still illegal. Don't use medical marijuana within 500 feet of school grounds; at or within 500 feet of a recreation or youth center; or on a school bus.

Your primary caregiver (or alternate caregiver) must be at least 21 years old, not currently on probation or parole, and can't have been convicted of a drug-related felony. They must apply with the registry to be a caregiver. And to be legally covered, they must be in physical possession of the caregiver registry identification card. They can only be the caregiver for one patient at a time unless the patients are related to them by at least the "fourth degree of kinship" (i.e. cousins).

Age Limits
If you are a minor, you need a statement by your parent or guardian that your doctor has explained the risks and benefits of marijuana. Also, your parent or guardian has to be your primary caregiver and needs to control your possession and use of marijuana.

Application Process
To apply to be a legal medical marijuana patient, follow the instructions and fill out the forms in this packet:http://www.hss.state.ak.us/dph/bvs/PDFs/MedicalMarijuana.pdf. It includes forms for the patient, doctor, primary caregiver and alternate caregiver. Send in the originals of these forms, but keep copies of all your recor ds. You also need to send a copy of y ourdrivers license or ID card. There is a $25 fee; make a check or moneyorder payable to the Bureau of Vital Statistics.

If you are denied, or if there is anything wrong with the paperwork in your application, you can't reapply for 6 months.

You need to update your registration every year, with all documentation, even if it hasn't changed, including a new signed physician's statement. The fee for the renewal is $20. If your card has already expired, they'll treat your application as a first-time application, not as a renewal.

If there has been a change in your physician, name, address, or that of your caregiver, you must notify the department of the change within 10 days. If you no longer have an eligible medical condition, you and your caregiver must return all registry ID cards to the department within 24 hours of receiving the diagnosis.

Your doctor needs to personally examine you within the last 16 months. The state of Alaska will not help you find a doctor.

Alaska's medical marijuana registry and the information contained within it are not a public record. Police and government officials can only access the registry to check if you are a lawful patient.

The law does not specifically address whether or not you can be evicted due to your status as a medical marijuana patient, even if you have only the amount of medical marijuana allowed by law. Also, it doesn't address whether you can live in subsidized housing, or whether you can grow, possess, and use marijuana in your house if it's within 500 feet of a school.

The law does not require a jail, the hospital, or like facility to accommodate your use of medical marijuana.

Your insurance will not cover medical marijuana expenses.

Alaska only recognizes it's own state-issued medical marijuana ID cards. However, Montana, Rhode Island, and Michigan should recognize your Alaska card.

Source: ASA: Becoming a Patient in Alaska
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