This summer will be Alaska’s fifth tourism season featuring a legal cannabis industry. For out-of-state visitors, here’s the lowdown on what you can and can’t do under the midnight sun.
(For more resources, the State of Alaska has a handbook available for download about responsible marijuana consumption.)
Where can I smoke?
In Alaska, anyone 21 or older can possess up to an ounce of cannabis for personal use. You can be gifted or give up to an ounce.
Under state law, public consumption of cannabis isn’t allowed — leaving parks, playgrounds and roads unavailable as a smoking spot for those visiting from out-of-state. If you get caught, you’re subject to a fine of up to $100.
Peter Christian, spokesman for the National Park Service, said if you’re caught with bud, you could face a federal citation. In 2020, there were zero arrests for cannabis within Denali National Park and Preserve, Christian said, with 14 verbal warnings.
Consuming cannabis is legal on private property, but only if property owners allow it — so check your hotel’s policy. If you’re staying at an Airbnb or other vacation rental, it’s best to ask your host in advance what their policy is.
The State of Alaska approved regulations allowing on-site consumption in retail cannabis stores in 2018, but years later the effort to set up “cannabis lounges” has been slow-going, complicated recently by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of this writing, there is at least one shop allowing consumption on-site: Good Titrations’ smoking area opened April 21, 2021, in Fairbanks. There’s a lounge area with a coffee bar, and customers can purchase up to a gram of flower each day.
Where can I buy weed?
Alaska has pot shops from Kotzebue to Ketchikan. Some sell prepackaged buds, others are deli-style: allowing customers to pick the green of their choice for their budtender to weigh and pack in front of them.
Stores are cash-only, but shops usually have an ATM for customers to use for a nominal fee. Alaska law requires businesses to check your ID — some do it twice — so make sure you have it on hand.
Most stores have menus online you can browse. Some offer an online ordering option, but not delivery, and you still have to pay in cash.
Tipping isn’t required, but it’s appreciated by the budtenders.
Driving with marijuana
Anchorage law says people must carry weed in the trunk of their car. If the car doesn’t have a trunk, the purchase needs to be stored 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’s open, even if a passenger is the one who’s opened it.
Neither passengers nor drivers can smoke in the vehicle. If you drive under the influence, you could get a DUI.
According to the Anchorage Police Department, if someone is suspected of drug impairment, a drug recognition officer will be called to investigate further. Renee Oistad with APD said in an email that the driver will be asked to perform a sobriety test.
If “probable cause exists” for impaired driving, APD will transport the person to the Anchorage jail for a breath test.
Those who refuse the breath test could be charged with an additional crime, Oistad wrote.
Traveling with marijuana
Rules for cannabis possession vary depending on how you’re getting around in the state. On federal waterways, the U.S. Coast Guard maintains jurisdiction.
Lt. Evan Rothfeld of the U.S. Coast Guard said possession of cannabis — for whatever purpose — remains illegal federally.
“The U.S. Coast Guard, as a federal law enforcement agency, will enforce federal laws regarding marijuana,” Rothfield said in an email.
But the Alaska Marine Highway System, operated by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said they aren’t actively looking for passengers possessing, said Sam Dapcevich.
On Alaska Airlines flights, cannabis is prohibited — both in checked and carry-on bags.
Lt. Krag Campbell with the Juneau Police Department said JPD won’t confiscate marijuana from people trying to fly with weed. But TSA still doesn’t allow you to travel with it through security checkpoints, he said.
“JPD will just ask the passenger to do something with it before being allowed to pass through the screening checkpoint,” Campbell wrote in an email.