Updated on July 26, 2019.
In November 2014, voters in Alaska approved a measure to tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana by adults aged 21 and older. The measure became effective in February 2015, making Alaska the third state to legalize recreational cannabis.
The Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office (AMCO) — a division of Alaska’s Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development — is charged with administering the state’s cannabis laws, which are codified in Alaska Administrative Code Chapter 306. All applications for marijuana business licenses, including retail establishments, are processed through AMCO.
In March 2019, Alaska finalized legislation authorizing licensed marijuana retail businesses to apply for onsite consumption endorsements through AMCO. The fee for an onsite consumption endorsement application is $1,000, and there is a $2,000 fee for the actual endorsement once approved. Alaska is the first to enact a state-wide program for the licensing of cannabis consumption lounges.
On this page, you’ll find Alaska’s retail marijuana regulations and licensing procedures summarized in Q and A form.
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The Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office (AMCO) is responsible for overseeing and licensing marijuana businesses in Alaska.
In Alaska, all marijuana business licenses are premises-based, which means the first step in applying for a license is securing a suitable location. Proposed marijuana retail store locations must adhere to all local ordinances and zoning codes, as well as the buffer zones set forth in Alaska’s marijuana regulations. Once you can demonstrate possession of a suitable property or a lease or rental agreement, you may begin the application process.
AMCO’s marijuana licensing page contains links to electronic applications for both marijuana license renewals and new marijuana establishment licenses; this is where you’ll begin your retail marijuana license application. Once you’ve completed the initial online application, you’ll be required to submit supplemental forms, as well as provide proper public notice, including notifying your local government.
After the public notice period, AMCO will review your application and all supplemental materials. If the application is complete, AMCO will initiate the 60-day waiting period for local government protest, as well as review the application at the next regular Marijuana Control Board Meeting. If approved by the board, AMCO will conduct a premises inspection of your proposed location, and award your license if the premises meets all requirements.
The following resources will help guide you through the application process:
The application fee for a new marijuana establishment is $1,000. You’ll also pay a fingerprint fee of $48.25 for each person associated with the application. The licensing fee for a retail marijuana store is $5,000.
No, with one exception: testing facility licenses are independent of all other license types. This means that a licensed marijuana testing facility may not have any licensee, employee, or agent who holds any type of marijuana establishment license other than a testing facility license.
Learn how to remain compliant with Alaska cannabis retail laws.
In Alaska, adults aged 21 and older may purchase marijuana from licensed retail stores.
Retail marijuana customers may purchase up to one ounce of usable marijuana, up to seven grams of marijuana concentrate for inhalation, or up to 5,600 milligrams of THC in combined marijuana and marijuana products per day.
Retail cannabis store locations must adhere to local zoning ordinances. Additionally, cannabis retail stores may not be located within 500 feet of a school ground, a recreation or youth center, a building in which religious services are regularly conducted, or a correctional facility.
Under Alaska’s state law, retail marijuana stores are permitted to conduct business between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 a.m. Local jurisdictions may impose further restrictions on retail marijuana operating hours.
Retail marijuana stores are required to post the following notices in a conspicuous location visible to customers:
These notification signs must be at least 11 inches by 15 inches in size, with lettering at least one-half inch in height and in colors that contrast with the background.
Retailers must verify that customers are 21 years of age or older via valid photographic identification before selling any marijuana products. Valid forms of photo ID include an unexpired passport, driver’s license, instruction permit, or ID card from a U.S. state or territory, the District of Columbia, or a province or territory of Canada.
Retailers must ensure that all marijuana product in their possession is identified and tracked from the time the store receives it through the sale, transfer, or disposal of the product.
Upon receipt, retailers are required to immediately enter identification information for the batch of marijuana or lot of marijuana product into their inventory tracking system; retailers may not accept any marijuana product that does not have a valid transport manifest generated from the inventory tracking system of the marijuana establishment that originated the delivery.
Additionally, retailers must reconcile each transaction from the marijuana store’s point-of-sale system and current inventory to its inventory tracking system at the close of business each day.
Metrc provides statewide seed-to-sale tracking and reporting in Alaska.
Retailers must use a marijuana inventory tracking system capable of sharing information with Metrc.
Yes. Cova’s cannabis retail point of sale and inventory management system includes all the features needed to keep Alaska retailers compliant, including:
First, no advertisements for anything cannabis-related can be attractive to minors (no cartoon characters or public figures appealing to a younger age group) or promote underage or out-of-state consumption. Second, no product can claim any therapeutic or curative effects. Lastly, any cannabis advertisement must include the following government warnings:
"This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming.";
"Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug.";
"There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product."; and
"For use only by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of the reach of children.”
Each licensed retail location can have two signs at their location with their business name or trade name. These signs cannot be larger than 1,600 square feet (measured from the outer frame). No signs can be on the road pointing in the direction of the dispensary, they can only be affixed or hanging from the building or windows of the actual storefront.
The signs can include the business name, location and identify the nature of the business. It cannot have any photos or depictions of cannabis and it cannot be appealing to minors.
A cannabis dispensary can advertise on billboards with some restrictions. First, the billboard can only contain the same information as signage on the storefront (i.e., name of business, address and nature of business). It cannot contain any photos or depictions of the cannabis plant (this includes any logo with a cannabis leaf) or appeal to minors. No matter the design, the billboard must say that cannabis can only be purchased and possessed by adults over 21 years old.
No, dispensaries cannot give away any product or coupons. They can, however, encourage customers to sign up for an email or text list and offer specials that way.
No, a dispensary is only allowed to sell legal cannabis products and paraphernalia. But branded merchandise for a dispensary can be sold on their website or through a separate entity.
Yes, a dispensary is allowed to advertise in print publications, but with a few restrictions. The publication cannot target or distribute to an audience out of state or underage. And the content of the advertisement must follow the same rules as billboards and signage (no cannabis depictions or photos, cartoon characters or anything appealing to minors and must include government warnings). Local jurisdictions are able to establish additional advertising rules, so always check for relevant local laws.
A retail cannabis business can have a website, but it cannot appeal to or solicit anyone under the age of 21. You can sell branded non-cannabis merchandise on your website, but all cannabis products must be purchased in store.
Yes, a dispensary can host or sponsor an event, but only if attendees are over 21 years old. They cannot have product on hand, neither as a free gift or sold.
Rules and regulations regarding advertising for Washington cannabis companies are constantly changing. You can view the WSLCB’s Q&A on advertising here.
Cova POS software provides complete seed-to-sale tracking functionality and has a number of built-in features designed to help you automatically comply with the legal regulations in your state/province. For example, the Cova POS system automatically monitors:
To ensure that you always maintain an expedient transaction pace and keep lines moving, Cova comes with a built-in offline sales processing mode that enables continuous access to critical functions even when your Wi-Fi or internet connection is unavailable. Once connectivity is restored, all transactions performed in offline mode are synchronized with the state’s reporting system, data is backed up, and reports and inventory records are adjusted accordingly.
By choosing a POS system with built-in tax reporting functionality, you’ll always know exactly how much tax you need to pay.
There are several reasons why a cannabis-specific POS is ideal for your operation—but the most important one is compliance management. Because traditional retail operations and pharmacies don’t have the same government-mandated compliance requirements, their POS systems aren’t built to manage the complexities involved with track and trace reporting and the other aspects of state compliance.
With the industry still in its infancy, regulations are bound to change. At Cova, our team keeps up with industry-wide and state-specific changes so that our developers can quickly made necessary software updates—and so you never have to worry about remaining compliant with the latest regulations.
Absolutely! Cova software is built on technology that has the ability to dynamically scale with your needs. Microsoft’s Cloud Computing Platform, Azure, automatically detects instances of heavy traffic (such as sales on 4/20) and assigns further servers and computing power as necessary to compensate—allowing you to process sales without interruption, even during the busiest retail periods.
Although technically you are not mandated to comply with the new law and regulations until July, it’s a good idea to implement a compliant POS now so you don’t have to switch later.
With Cova, you can easily stay compliant with California’s inventory reconciliation requirement by printing the Inventory-on-hand report and checking it against your physical inventory. You can make any necessary adjustments directly into the POS, which will then sync the data across your network.
Cannabis Business Lawyer & Founding Partner, Segev LLP
Ron Segev is the founding partner of Segev LLP. A practical-minded business lawyer with expertise in the cannabis industry, he represents cultivators, dispensaries, CBD extractors, oil extractors, food processors, media and marketing companies, consultancies, and other businesses in the legal cannabis market.