ALASKA Dispensary Laws

Alaska Cannabis Dispensary Laws and Licensing Procedures

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.

Related resources:

 Oklahoma Dispensary Laws / Washington Dispensary LawsColorado Dispensary Laws / California Dispensary Laws / Missouri Dispensary Laws / Michigan Dispensary Laws / Illinois Dispensary Laws / Nevada Dispensary Laws

Retail Cannabis Licensing in Alaska

Everything you need to know about opening a retail cannabis location in Alaska. 

What agency is in charge of retail cannabis licensing in Alaska?

The Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office (AMCO) is responsible for overseeing and licensing marijuana businesses in Alaska.

What is the process for obtaining a cannabis retail store license 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:

What costs are associated with applying for a marijuana retail license in Alaska?

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.

Is there a limit to the number of licenses one person may hold?

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.

Alaska Dispensary Laws

Learn how to remain compliant with Alaska cannabis retail laws.

Who can purchase cannabis in Alaska?

In Alaska, adults aged 21 and older may purchase marijuana from licensed retail stores.

What are the retail cannabis purchase limits?

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.

Where can a retail cannabis store be located?

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.

During what hours may a retail marijuana store operate?

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.

What are the required consumer notices for retail marijuana stores in Alaska?

Retail marijuana stores are required to post the following notices in a conspicuous location visible to customers:

  • “Consumption of marijuana in public is prohibited by law.”
  • “Transportation or carriage of marijuana or marijuana products on Alaska waterways, including cruise ships, or by air carrier is prohibited by federal law.”
  • Transportation or shipment of marijuana or marijuana products outside the State of Alaska is prohibited by federal law.”
  • “Providing marijuana to persons under 21 years of age is prohibited by law.”

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.

What steps are required of Alaska retailers before selling cannabis to consumers?

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.

Cannabis Tracking, Reporting, and Inventory Control in Alaska

Every regulated cannabis market has its own tracking and reporting requirements. Find out how Alaska monitors commercial cannabis activity here.

What are the tracking and reporting requirements for Alaska cannabis retailers?

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.

What is the official state cannabis verification system in Alaska?

Metrc provides statewide seed-to-sale tracking and reporting in Alaska.

What are the inventory control system requirements for cannabis retailers in Alaska?

Retailers must use a marijuana inventory tracking system capable of sharing information with Metrc.

Is Cova compliant with Alaska's cannabis tracking, reporting, and inventory control requirements?

Yes. Cova’s cannabis retail point of sale and inventory management system includes all the features needed to keep Alaska retailers compliant, including:

  • Inventory and sales tracking and reporting that is fully integrated with Metrc, the state’s contracted seed-to-sale system provider
  • Built-in product equivalency conversions and purchase limit enforcement to prevent over-selling
  • Programmable hours of operation to prevent unauthorized transactions
  • ID scanner for customer age verification

Cannabis Advertising & Marketing Laws

What restrictions are there regarding cannabis advertising?

There are specific restrictions depending on the advertising medium that we will address below, but overall there are some common restrictions across the board.

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.”

What kind of signage are dispensaries allowed to have?

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.

What can the signs include on them?

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.

Are cannabis advertisements on billboards allowed?

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.

Are dispensaries allowed to host giveaways or coupons?

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.

Can a dispensary sell branded merchandise?

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.


Can a dispensary advertise in print media?

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.

What is allowed in terms of online advertising?

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.

Can a dispensary host, attend or sponsor events?

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.

Where can I find more information about cannabis advertising laws in Washington?

Rules and regulations regarding advertising for Washington cannabis companies are constantly changing. You can view the WSLCB’s Q&A on advertising here.


You definitely need a cannabis-specific POS at your dispensary. Find the most frequently asked tech questions here.

How do I manage state compliance using my point-of-sale?

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:

  • Purchase Limits – The POS system automatically calculates the correct THC amounts for all products, including concentrates and edibles. By relieving your staff of this complex task, the POS prevents mistakes in calculation and allows your budtenders to focus on customer service—and not on mathematical conversions. The system also enforces purchase limits by alerting staff when a limit has been reached and preventing budtenders from executing a sale that would place you over the legal limit.
  • Hours of Operation – The system can be easily configured to comply with local laws. Once the operational hours are set up, the POS will not allow sales to be executed outside the legal hours of operation, preventing potential violations before they occur.
  • Customer Identification Requirements – Customer IDs are easily scanned and recorded, ensuring your staff double checks IDs and virtually eliminating potential sales to minors or other individuals lacking the requisite documentation.
  • Accurate Real-Time Reporting – Operational visibility is also very important for your team. Cova POS software generates management reports in real time. These reports can be easily distributed across the organization to ensure the correct data is in the hands of the correct personnel.
  • Fully Compliant Product Labelling & Receipts Cova Software enables the complete customization of all printed materials, product labels, and receipts, enabling you to comply with all local regulations related to labeling and packaging quickly and easily.

What happens if my internet connection goes down and my dispensary is slammed with customers?

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.

How do I make sure I submit timely and accurate taxes each month to the government?

By choosing a POS system with built-in tax reporting functionality, you’ll always know exactly how much tax you need to pay.

Why is it important to have a marijuana-specific POS vs. a retail or pharmacy POS?

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.

What happens if the state regulations change? How does Cova stay on top of this?

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.

Is Cova integrated with Metrc?

Currently, Metrc is not yet live in California since the state's regulations have not yet been officially adopted. However, Cova is working closely with Metrc and has already begun the process of integration, and we plan to be ready when the system goes live.

I have a high-traffic store. Can Cova support me and handle my volume?

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.

Do I have to follow CA compliance even if it is not in effect? Will the POS still process sales?

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.

How do I do the 14-day inventory reconciliation?

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.

Ron Segev

Cannabis Business Lawyer & Founding Partner, Segev LLP

Legally reviewed by

Ron Segev

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. 

View Ron's full bio


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