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How to Open a Marijuana Dispensary in Alaska

The legal cannabis industry is thriving in Alaska, which legalized the commercial sale of medical and recreational marijuana in 2014. If you are over 21 and reside in Alaska, you can open your own cannabis business and be part of this growing field. You must, however, be aware of the state and local laws associated with marijuana businesses to ensure you are in compliance. Failure to adhere to Alaska's comprehensive marijuana laws for dispensaries can lead significant penalties, including the denial or revocation of your marijuana license.

The table below lists the relevant laws related to running a marijuana business in Alaska.

Relevant Laws

Licensing Fees

You can expect to pay:

  • A nonrefundable application fee
  • A fingerprint fee
  • An initial marijuana licensing fee
  • An annual marijuana license renewal fee

Types of Licenses

  • Retail marijuana store license
  • Standard cultivation facility license
  • Limited cultivation facility license
  • Marijuana product manufacturing facility license
  • Marijuana concentrate manufacturing facility license
  • Testing facility license

Who Can I Sell Marijuana to?

You need to verify the consumer is above the required age (by asking for a valid ID) before you sell marijuana to them.

  • A person needs to be at least 21 years old to purchase marijuana in Alaska.

In one day, a person can only buy:

  • Seven grams of cannabis; or
  • 5,600 milligrams of THC combined in cannabis and cannabis products.

Can I Open a Dispensary Anywhere?

The Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office will not issue licenses to dispensaries located within 500 feet of the following premises:

  • Outer boundaries of youth centers
  • Recreational centers
  • School premises
  • Buildings where religious services are conducted
  • Correctional facilities

This provision will not affect you if you started running your dispensary before one of the listed premises began operation.

City ordinances might change these requirements, so you must check your local city ordinances to ensure compliance.

Hours of Operation

You can operate a dispensary from 8 a.m.–5 a.m.

Criminal Records

You will not qualify for a license if you have one of the following:

  • Conviction of a felony;
  • Conviction of selling alcohol in violation of the state law;
  • Misdemeanor involving controlled substances; or
  • Misdemeanor relating to the distribution or sale of cannabis within two years prior to applying for a permit.

You must disclose your criminal history because the board will do background checks on all applications.

Is There a Residency Requirement?

All persons who may have direct or indirect financial interests in the new cannabis business need to reside in Alaska. You can establish residency by providing a copy of a government-issued document.

Other Relevant Documents

New License application forms can be found on the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office website.

There are also supplemental documents that need to be submitted with the license application.

Note: Different supplemental documents are required for the different types of licenses.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Which Agency Oversees the Licensing Process?

The Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office (AMCO) is the agency responsible for overseeing retail cannabis licensing in Alaska.

Application Process

The first step you should take after familiarizing yourself with the relevant laws and regulations is to secure a location for your new marijuana dispensary. You will need to provide proof of ownership or a rental agreement with your application. After you secure a location, you will need to start a marijuana application and follow the steps. The board also requires you to submit supplemental documents depending on the license you apply for.

Be Sure to Check the Local Laws Before Applying for a License

State law gives local governments the right to protest a license application. The board will not issue your license unless the local government where the dispensary is located permits the type of license you are applying for. It is thus important to verify that the laws of your specific city allow the dispensary license.

For instance, Anchorage modifies the distance requirement outlined in the state law. Fairbanks limits the number of marijuana retail stores to 12. This spreadsheet can serve as a starting point while doing your research on the different laws of local governments.

Do I Need to Post Notices to Consumers in My Dispensary?

The law requires all dispensaries to post notices in a conspicuous language informing consumers about the restrictions of marijuana use. Some of these signs include:

  • “Consumption of Marijuana is prohibited by law”
  • “Providing Marijuana to persons under 21 years of age is prohibited by law”

For a list of all the required notices, see Section 365 of the Regulations for the Marijuana Control Board

Can I Advertise My Dispensary?

You can advertise your cannabis company unless it is within 1,000 feet of one of the below premises:

  • Child-centered premises
  • Recreational centers
  • Public transit
  • Public parks

You can find a complete list of the prohibited areas under Section of the 3AAC.770 (f) regulation.

Did the Board Deny Your Application?

If the board denied your application due to restrictions listed in Section 080 of the regulation, you have the option to request a hearing. You can do that by filing a notice of defense to the board within 15 days of receiving the denial.

Still Have Questions?

This application process flow chart and step by step new license application instructions from the Alaska Marijuana Control Board will serve as a good guide to starting your cannabis business.

Additional Resources

Do You Need an Attorney to Handle the Application Process?

Starting and maintaining a cannabis company is a complicated and difficult process. If you don’t file the appropriate documents, you will need to re-apply. This will be costly as you may have to pay the application fees again. You can speak to a cannabis law attorney to ensure you complete the application correctly and comply with all applicable laws.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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