• 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

    New commander to take over at US Army Pacific

    by Associated Press on May 04, 16:22

    A new commander is taking over as the leader of Army soldiers in the Pacific. Gen. Robert Brown succeeds Gen. Vincent Brooks as the commander of U.S. Army Pacific. Brooks is becoming the new commander of U.S. Forces Korea. Brown will lead about 80,000 active duty soldiers around the Pacific including in Alaska, Hawaii and […]

  • News

    Crews battle grass fire north of Meadow Lakes neighborhood

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 04, 16:07

    A grass fire is growing near Wasilla, according to Matanuska-Susitna Borough officials. The fire was estimated to be roughly seven to 10 acres in size Wednesday afternoon and is located along a logging road at the end of Sunset Drive in Meadow Lakes, north of Pittman Road. Several cabins are located east of the fire […]

  • Politics

    Effort to revive stalled bill with sex ed provisions falters

    by Associated Press on May 04, 14:39

    An effort to revive a stalled education bill that limits who can teach sex education in public schools has faltered in the Alaska House. Wednesday marked the third time that the House has rejected a Senate rewrite of Rep. Wes Keller’s bill dealing with parental involvement in education and student testing. The Senate version calls […]

  • DayBreak

    Workforce Wednesday: Career exploration and workplace maturity

    by Daybreak Staff on May 04, 13:51

    From critical thinking and communication, to teamwork and time management, Excel Alaska helps students in rural, western Alaska learn critical “employability” skills. There, they’ll teach teens how to drive, budgeting, navigating public transportation, enabling independence and the ability to get to and from work. Cari-Ann Carty with Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium said the program […]

  • Politics

    Alaska legislature passes bill for excess power program earnings

    by Associated Press on May 04, 12:09

    The Alaska Legislature has passed a bill that would divvy up any excess earnings from a fund set up to help rural areas faced with high electricity costs. The legislation would allow for 70 percent of excess earnings from the Power Cost Equalization endowment fund to be put to other uses. Of that percentage, any […]

  • News

    NTSB: Plane hit bald eagle before crashing in Chugiak, killing 4

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 04, 11:02

    New information has been released regarding the fatal April 20 plane crash that killed four people near the Birchwood airport in Chugiak. The plane apparently hit a young bald eagle before it crashed, according to new findings announced Wednesday by the National Transportation Safety Board. An investigation into the incident, which is still ongoing, revealed […]

  • Politics

    Rolling Stones ask Trump to stop playing their music at campaign events

    by Associated Press on May 04, 10:41

    The Rolling Stones have asked presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to stop playing their songs at his campaign events. In a statement Wednesday, the rock band said they have not given permission to the Trump campaign to use their songs and “have requested that they cease all use immediately.” A Trump campaign spokeswoman didn’t […]

  • Politics

    AP Sources: Kasich ends White House bid; clears Trump’s path

    by Associated Press on May 04, 8:39

    WASHINGTON (AP) — John Kasich plans to end his bid for the White House, making Donald Trump the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Three campaign officials who spoke to The Associated Press said the Ohio governor plans to announce his decision in a statement from his home state later Wednesday. The officials spoke anonymously because […]