The Truth About MMJ Cards in Alaska

ReLeaf Alaska
Lori Brandt, owner of ReLeaf Alaska, offers medical marijuana advice to patient Kerby Coman.

It’s not very hard to get a medical marijuana card in Alaska. Just complete the application and pay the $25 application fee, that’s it. But now that marijuana is legal to grow in Alaska, what’s the benefit of having a medical marijuana card and why are local businesses charging $225 for them?

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If you know enough people, then you know somebody with a medial marijuana card in Alaska. Heck, maybe you have one or are thinking of getting one yourself. And if you are in the market to get a medical marijuana card, you’ve probably asked somebody why they got their’s; and they probably said something like “I got my card to get the extended plant count.” Some of them say they can grow up to 24-plants and others say they can grow up to 99-plants with their “extended plant count,” exemption.

But is it really true? Does a medical marijuana card give you the right to grow more plants than the law allows?

According to the website of ReLeaf Alaska, a clinic offering medical marijuana cards, they will offer a patient a “Higher Plant Count,” card for a $150 fee. But they aren’t the only ones. The Healing Center offers the same deal.

Still, can medical marijuana clinics really offer a medical marijuana card that protects you to grow more plants then the state allows?

According to the state of Alaska’s medical marijuana registration manager, the situation is clear and straightforward. Alaska Statute 17.37.40 section (4)(B) says medical marijuana cardholders can have “six marijuana plants, with no more than three mature and flowering plants producing usable marijuana at any one time.”

So, can you get a medical marijuana card in Alaska that protects you to grow 24 or more plants? The answer is no.

Then why are medical marijuana card clinics saying they can issue cards with an extended plant count? Because in Alaska, cultivation of less than 25 plants of marijuana for personal use in a private residence is protected under the right to privacy of the Alaska Constitution (Ravin v. State – 1975).

Basically, these medical marijuana clinics are charging people $350 for something the state constitutionally provides them for free – the right to privacy.

There is one thing registering for a medical marijuana card does do, however. Once you apply and register for a medical marijuana card, your name is placed in the federal government’s database as a pot user and you lose your ability to purchase a gun.

In Alaska, marijuana is legal to grow. You do not need a medical marijuana card. It doesn’t offer you any special rights or protections. In fact, it only messes with your ability to purchase a gun. If you have $350 to spend, pass on the medical marijuana card and purchase some seeds – it’s money much better spent.

About Aaron Waters 73 Articles

Aaron is a cannabis writer living in Eagle River with his wife and two dogs, Indica and Sativa.

4 Comments

  1. This statement is misleading at best, false at worst: “[C]ultivation of less than 25 plants of marijuana for personal use in a private residence is protected under the right to privacy of the Alaska Constitution (Ravin v. State – 1975).” The 25 plant threshold for felony prosecution was statutory (former AS 11.71.040(a)(3)(G)). That statute, as with much of Title 11, Chapter 71 was significantly rewritten by Senate Bill 91.

    If anyone is considering growing more than 6 plants for personal use, they should talk to an attorney about the risk they are taking.

    At the very least, reference Jason Brandeis’s articles from 2012 (http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/alr/vol29/iss2/1) and 2015 (http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/alr/vol32/iss2/4).

  2. This is not a particularly accurate depiction of the value of one of these cards as I believe you have left out the significant benefits of multistate reciprocity. Several states recognize Alaska cards, allowing residents to purchase legally, additionally in markets like Oregon, medicinal card holders are able to purchase concentrates and other products of higher potency not available to the recreational consumer. There is also a distinct benefit of flying with your medicinal cardholder information wrapped around your cannabis product in your luggage, as the TSA has written notices that their agents avoid interfering with medicines. This is a bit of a slam piece on these cards without fully acknowledging that there are indeed benefits ignorantly and completely overlooked by this writer. Secondarily, the writer fails to inform the reader that the HIIPA regulations forbid medicinal information transfer, so there is no crossreference of the databases permitted. Nobody I know who has a card has ever had a problem with a firearm purchase, and let’s face it…in Alaska, you can get a gun any time of the day or night, any make, model, caliber etc. your heart desires from private purchase. Perhaps medical cards are not for everyone, but your assertion that people out there doing good things for the understanding of medicinal cannabis are providing no value is shamefully and ignorantly misguided at best.

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