The History of Marijuana in Alaska

Marijuana laws have changed constantly since the plant was first introduced to the United States. For this reason, many Alaska residents aren’t even sure where their state stands on the legalization of marijuana, because Alaska has had a particularly complicated history with the drug. During the 1930s, even the Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Henry Anslinger, wasn’t sure of Alaska’s marijuana laws, “Hawaii has a law. I cannot tell you about Alaska. Puerto Rico does have a law. The only place I am not sure about is Alaska.” Alaska’s complicated history didn’t begin until 1972 though, when Irwin Ravin refused to sign a ticket for possession of marijuana, until the officer arrested him.

By 1975, the case reached the Alaska Supreme Court, in the famous Ravin vs State, which championed Alaska’s right to privacy and the state’s marijuana laws. Alaska was traditionally home to people who enjoy their individuality and privacy, so the Court ruled that marijuana consumption is constitutional in the privacy of your home. That same year, the state also decriminalized marijuana, and by 1982, Alaska increased the permitted possession amount to four ounces in private and one ounce in public. The marijuana laws soon became even more complicated though, because in 1990 Alaska criminalized the possession of marijuana. Now though, Alaska is known as one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, which passed in 2015.  


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