Alaska News

Iditarod notebook: Marijuana legalization looms, but no changes for Iditarod racers

On Feb. 24, recreational marijuana will be legal in Alaska, but don't expect to see any mushers using along the Iditarod Trail -- at least if they want to stay in the race.

"(It's a) non-issue," Race Marshall Mark Nordman wrote in an email to Alaska Dispatch News Thursday. "(The) rules have not changed."

Marijuana use on the trail remains prohibited for mushers. In 2010 the race added marijuana to its list of banned substances. The move was seen by some as a direct challenge to then three-time champion Lance Mackey, a cancer survivor and admitted medical marijuana user. Mackey went on to win his fourth consecutive race that year. He has never tested positive after a race for the drug.

In the years since the rule has been enacted, only one musher has been sanctioned. Musher Matt Giblin was disqualified following a positive drug test for THC in the 2012 race. He returned the next year to record his best finish in four Iditarod starts, 39th place.

According to race rules, other substances are also banned along the race course, including alcohol. Mushers could be subject to breathalyzer tests and can be sanctioned for blowing over a 0.04, lower than the legal driving limit of 0.08.

Suzanna Caldwell

Suzanna Caldwell is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in 2017.