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Like people in many other parts of the country, individuals in Alaska have looked to CBD for help with a number of maladies. The extreme light during Alaska’s summer, and months of darkness during Alaska’s winters can disrupt circadian rhythms and contribute to sleep disorders. Additionally, the lack of winter light can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder. Alaska’s cold climate may exacerbate painful conditions that include arthritis, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. Those researching ways to find relief have found that, for many people, CBD may provide the help they need.
However, before looking to cannabidiol for relief, it is natural to want to make sure that this remedy is available in Alaska and is also legal for sale. Here’s what we were able to find out:
Is CBD oil legal in Alaska?
Because Alaska has legal recreational marijuana, the answer to the question “is CBD legal in Alaska?” seems like it would be a straightforward “yes.” However, while both marijuana-derived and hemp-derived CBD are legal in the state, laws regarding both are slightly more complex.
Alaska legalized medical use of marijuana in 1998 and recreational in 2014. Since that time, marijuana-derived CBD products have been available through dispensaries and can be purchased there by registered patients or people who are over the age of 21.
However, many people prefer hemp-derived CBD products for a number of reasons. In some cases, they are concerned about the presence of THC in their CBD products. Since hemp is naturally low in THC, the chances of encountering products with an inadvertently high concentration of THC are extremely low.
Additionally, while marijuana is legal within Alaska, it is still a federally scheduled controlled substance. People who need to avoid possession of federally scheduled substances due to contracts at work or other reasons can avoid the issue completely by purchasing hemp-derived CBD products instead.
As of April 4, 2020, Alaska’s most recent industrial hemp regulations went into effect. Under this new law, it is legal for registered retailers to sell CBD products, including CBD oil. However, by law, CBD can only be sold by retailers who are registered with the state. Sales by those who are not registered remain illegal.
What are the current CBD laws in Alaska?
Laws involving CBD and other cannabinoids have evolved in Alaska over a span of decades. Although CBD was first isolated in 1946, national prohibitions on all corms of cannabis sale and production, including industrial hemp, slowed down research.
Alaska was among the first states to begin exploring loosening of laws and regulations that related to marijuana. Marijuana was first decriminalized by at state law in 1975; the penalty for possession was reduced to a $100 fine. A week later, the Alaska Supreme Court ruling Ravin v. State legalized personal use of marijuana. However, Measure 2 recriminalized marijuana in 1990, with the measure winning 54.5% of the vote.
It was not until 1998 that laws related to cannabis began to loosen up again. In 1998, medical marijuana, which would include marijuana-derived CBD, was legalized by the voters through Measure 8.
Recreational use of marijuana continued its long climb with failed recreational legislation in 2000 and 2004. It would be decriminalized once again through the courts in 2003, but recriminalized again by the state legislature in 2006.
In 2014, Alaskan voters chose to make recreational marijuana products legal with 53.2% of the vote.
However, ironically, while intoxicating marijuana products were legal at that time, it would be several more years before hemp-derived CBD would get the green light. In fact, in February, 2017, the state seized over $20,000 worth of CBD oil from a registered dispensary because of a conflict with Alaska’s marijuana packaging regulations. While the dispensary owner eventually got his CBD oil returned, he said that he had to discard a third of the product because it expired while the state was holding it.
On April 13, 2018, Alaska authorized the state’s Department of Natural Resources to create an Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. The purpose of this program was to research industrial hemp growth, cultivation and marketing within the state. The regulations associated with this program would include registration of growers, processors and retailers, as well as testing of products to ensure that they conformed with state law. The program proved immediately popular, with over 500 people contacting state agronomist Rob Carter about hemp before the regulations were fully in place. At the time Alaska passed their legislation, they became one of 35 states where cultivation of hemp is now legal.
Under the law in the state of Alaska, hemp-derived CBD products could contain no more than .3% THC by volume. This is an amount considered low enough that the risk of intoxication is low, and that would prevent positive results in drug tests performed according to guidelines released by the national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
The Industrial Hemp Regulations (11 AAC Chapter 40) were put into effect April 4, 2020. While this opens up the possibility for registered participants to produce, process and sell industrial hemp products, it is still a violation of both federal and state law to engage in those activities without the requisite permits. Potential growers, processors and sellers could find the application online to become registered. Information needed to sell CBD products include the name of the person applying, their retail locations, and a list of the products they intended to sell. The product list would need to include the processor or grower number and the state of origin. Additionally, potential retailers would have to affirm that they were over 18 and would conform with state laws.
As of August 1st, the Division of Agriculture began visiting retail establishments that are known to grow, process or sell industrial help products. Authorities have cited the massive growth of unregulated CBD products as the reason behind the need for registration and testing. In 2019, for instance, the Anchorage Daily News published an article citing state authorities’ concern over fake CBD products that contained synthetic marijuana instead. While the article did not discuss incidents in Alaska, they mentioned an Associated Press study that revealed that, out of 30 CBD vape products purchased throughout the country, only two contained any CBD.
A 2018 Consumer Protection Alert from Alaska’s Consumer Protection Unit warned of unregulated CBD products being sold in the state. The alert cautioned consumers to limit their consumption to products that had been independently tested for CBD content, as well as adulterants such as THC or synthetic marijuana.
Can I purchase CBD oil in Alaska?
Yes, you can purchase CBD oil in Alaska. There are multiple options available. The first is to purchase it in person from a registered retailer. The hemp-derived CBD products offered by these retailers can be purchased by anyone, regardless of age or medical-marijuana status.
If you are over the age of 21 or have a marijuana patient card, you can also purchase CBD products from dispensaries throughout the state of Alaska.