How to Open a Marijuana Dispensary in Alaska

The legal cannabis industry is thriving in the state of Alaska, which legalized the commercial sale of medical marijuana and adult-use recreational marijuana in 2014. If you are over 21 and reside in Alaska, you can open your own cannabis business and join this growing field. 

However, it is important to be aware of your state and local municipality laws to ensure your marijuana business complies. Failure to adhere to Alaska's comprehensive marijuana laws for cannabis dispensaries can lead to significant penalties, including the denial or revocation of your marijuana business license.

This article provides some insight into relevant laws and regulations related to running a marijuana establishment in Alaska.

Relevant Laws and Regulations

Licensing Fees

You can expect to pay:

  • A non-refundable application fee
  • A fingerprint fee
  • An initial marijuana licensing fee
  • An annual marijuana license renewal fee
  • An onsite consumption endorsement renewal application fee (if applicable)

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 buy marijuana in Alaska

In one day, a person can buy up to:

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

Can I Open a Dispensary Anywhere?

Alaskan law does not list the term "dispensary." However, what is commonly known as a "dispensary" is "retail marijuana stores."

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

  • Outer boundaries of youth centers
  • Recreational centers
  • School premises
  • Religious services buildings
  • Correctional facilities

However, this provision will not affect you if you start running your dispensary before one of the listed premises begins operation.

City ordinances and zoning regulations might change these requirements. Make sure to 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 on your record:

  • A felony conviction
  • Conviction of selling alcohol in violation of state law
  • A misdemeanor involving controlled substances
  • 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 AMCO will do background checks on all applications.

Is There a Residency Requirement?

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

Other Relevant Documents

New license application forms are on the Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office website.

There are also supplemental documents to submit with your license application.


  • Each type of license requires different supplemental documents.
  • 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

First, you should familiarize yourself with the relevant laws and regulations for both medical cannabis and recreational marijuana use. Second, 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.

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

State law gives local governments and municipalities 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 for which you are applying. Thus, it is important to verify the laws of your specific city before applying for a dispensary license.

For example, 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 3AAC 306.365 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 3AAC 306.770 (f) Regulations for the Marijuana Control Board.

Did the Board Deny Your Application?

If the board denies your application due to restrictions listed in Section 3AAC 306.080 of Regulations for the Marijuana Control Board, you can request a hearing. You 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 make sure you complete the application correctly and follow all applicable laws.

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DIY Forms for Cannabis Business

Restrictive federal laws and ever-changing state laws make the marijuana industry a dynamic environment for cannabis business owners. Before you open a cannabis business, make sure it is legal in your state, and follow your state laws. Once you decide on an LLC, S-corp, or C-corp business, you can register your business entity online using DIY business formation forms.

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