• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 49s

Medical patient’s pot predicament raises questions about legalization

By Shannon Ballard 7:32 PM January 1, 2014

Recreational marijuana: Is Alaska next to legalize?

ANCHORAGE – Sixty-year-old Julie is a cancer patient.

She is terrified. Not of an uncertain future, but just to show her face.

“I have a lot riding on this,” she said. “I could get cut off for medical or whatever.”

Julie uses cannabis every day to help manage the excruciating pain in her lungs.

“I can feel the difference each day, I have more energy,” she said.

Julie is one of hundreds of Alaskans with a medical marijuana card, but who have no place to legally buy the drug.

There are no dispensaries in Alaska. And given only months to live, she says she doesn’t have time to grow her own plants.

This predicament is forcing Julie and other medical marijuana users to get it elsewhere, such as Outside or illicit markets.

And it’s expensive — up to $400 an ounce, according to Anchorage police.

“I’m in debt. I don’t care,” she said. “I need to do what I need to do, and if the government, if they were to get cancer, I think they’d step on the bandwagon.”

A group of concerned Alaskans is trying to help people like Julie come out from the shadows and get marijuana legally.

Bill Porter is one of three sponsors behind the latest initiative to treat pot the same as alcohol, reducing the cost of marijuana for cancer patients and recreational users.

“Washington is pretty close to here and we’re all paying close attention,” Porter said. “I think we have a model and I think it will be easier to execute once we’ve passed it then it would have been if we were the first state.”

The Marijuana Policy Project has dished out thousands of dollars to fund efforts to get the initiative on the primary ballot next August. But to make that happen they need signatures.

Across the state are paid petitioners like Harley Brown.

“I like to see things on the ballot,” Brown said. “I do believe in ballot access. We have a right to say no or yes to whatever goes on the ballot. You’re not saying you agree with anything that’s on here. You’re just saying put it on the ballot so I can vote for it.”

In a six-hour day, Brown says he collects around a hundred signatures.

To get recreational marijuana on the ballot, backers will need at least 30,00 signatures. A goal they’ve met, but they’re not stopping.

“We’re tying to gather 45,000 signatures to make sure there are 30,000 good ones,” Porter said.

Addiction counselor Kurtis Walton says while he supports medical marijuana, when it comes to recreational use, he won’t vote to legalize it.

“There’s already enough traffic problems, deaths and injuries up here because of just alcohol alone. Do we need to add another element to our public safety?” Walton asks.

Julie obviously disagrees. She was paying hundreds of dollars each week just for small amounts of hemp oil to treat her pain. It was costing her too much and she had to stop.

The price of marijuana in Alaska is inflated with risk. In Colorado and Washington where distribution is legal, the medical marijuana would cost a fraction of what Julie pays.

Julie wants the initiative passed, making recreational use legal and the medical marijuana products she relies on more accessible and more affordable.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Shell one step closer to Arctic drilling in Chukchi

    by Hope Miller on Mar 31, 14:35

    After halting its drilling program in Alaska in 2013, Royal Dutch Shell is closer to being able to resume operations in the Arctic after federal officials affirmed a corrected analysis for a years-old lease in the Chukchi Sea. A statement issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior Tuesday stated: “After thorough environmental analysis and […]

  • Politics

    Senate passes bill limiting AGDC role in alternate gas plan

    by Associated Press on Mar 31, 14:26

    The Alaska Senate has approved legislation to temporarily restrict participation by a state-sponsored corporation in an alternate gas pipeline project proposed by Gov. Bill Walker. The decision follows a failed attempt by legislative leaders and Walker to broker an agreement. The vote was 13-7. Notice of reconsideration was served, meaning the bill could be voted […]

  • News

    Stray bullet causes partial evacuation, delay at Juneau airport

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Mar 31, 13:31

    The Juneau International Airport was partially evacuated after a single bullet was found on a Jetway before a flight Tuesday morning. In a statement, the Juneau Police Department says that a pilot was walking on the Jetway, a secure area, and spotted one unfired .22-caliber bullet. Two Alaska Airlines planes — flights 61 and 62 […]

  • Politics

    House panel moves bill requesting sexual assault kit report

    by Associated Press on Mar 31, 10:56

    A House committee advanced a bill requesting a report on untested sexual assault kits after hearing public testimony supporting the effort. House State Affairs on Tuesday moved a new version of Rep. Geran Tarr’s bill, which would direct the state Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement to produce a report on untested sexual […]

  • Anchorage Centennial

    Local photographer featured in centennial documentary ‘Anchorage Is’

    by Daybreak Staff on Mar 31, 10:38

    Local photographer Clark James Mishler hasn’t missed taking someone’s portrait every day for the past five years. His work is featured in Anchorage’s official centennial celebration documentary “Anchorage Is…” “I think there’s a lot of photographic projects in the world where people go out and make a photo a day,” Mishler said. “I thought I would up […]

  • News

    Huslia board of fisheries member reappointed

    by Associated Press on Mar 31, 8:44

    Orville Huntington has been re-appointed to another term on the Alaska Board of Fisheries. Gov. Bill Walker appointed Huntington, a Huslia resident, to a three-year term that would begin July 1. The appointment must be confirmed by the Legislature. Huntington was first appointed to the board by former Gov. Sean Parnell in 2012. His current […]

  • Weather

    Daybreak weather, March 31

    by Brett Shepard on Mar 31, 8:27

    Southcentral Mostly cloudy skies today with a good chance of rain showers for the Prince William Sound and eastern Kenai Peninsula. Southeast Cloudy skies with a good chance of rain at times. Interior Partly cloudy skies and mild. North Slope Mostly cloudy skies throughout the day. Western Alaska Chilly to the north and mild to […]

  • On-Air

    Mystery disease: Fingernails tell all

    by Ivanhoe Newswire on Mar 31, 7:36

    Imagine losing your hair, vomiting every time you ate and living in extreme pain. Now, imagine if doctors couldn’t help you because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. That’s exactly what happened to one woman — art teacher, Ingrid Dick. Dick says she loves watching her students at work, “just seeing what comes out of […]