• 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

  • Sports

    UAA men’s cross country headed to NCAA tourney again

    by KTVA Sports on Nov 23, 18:37

    After a strong performance at the NCAA Division II West Region Championships in Billings, Montana, UAA Cross Country now finds itself in a familiar position — the NCAA Tournament.

  • Weather

    Evening News weather, Nov. 23

    by KTVA Weather on Nov 23, 18:20

  • News

    Thanksgiving Blessing expects to feed 11,000 in Anchorage area

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 23, 18:03

    This Thanksgiving will be a reason to celebrate for many local families, thanks to the Food Bank of Alaska and neighborhood volunteers. This year’s Thanksgiving Blessing project — one of the area’s biggest food drives for the holidays – is expected to feed more than 11,000 families around Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley. Tons of donations […]

  • Sports

    Days before Great Alaska Shootout, UAA men’s basketball back on track

    by KTVA Sports on Nov 23, 16:58

    As preparation begins for the GCI Great Alaska Shootout, which begins Tuesday, the UAA men’s basketball team appears back on track.

  • News

    Anchorage Fire Department holds deep-fried turkey safety demo

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 23, 13:30

    Thanksgiving is around the corner. For many residents, deep-fried turkey is on the planned menu. Anchorage Fire Department battalion chief Mark Hall says deep fryer fires are responsible for about $15 million in damage to homes. Hall and other firefighters from the department held a demonstration Saturday of what could happen if deep frying a […]

  • News

    Downtown street party, multiple shootings overnight keep Anchorage police busy

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Nov 23, 12:00

    The video above may contain inappropriate content. Anchorage police responded to multiple incidents early Sunday morning, including an unruly street party and two isolated shootings. Downtown street party The first occurred at around 2:30 a.m., according to a release from the Anchorage Police Department. Police responded to a call that shots had been fired in the […]

  • News

    UAF computer science students seek software proposals

    by Associated Press on Nov 23, 10:45

    Computer science students at the University of Alaska Fairbanks are looking for software design proposals as part of their learning process. UAF officials say the projects allow public service and private organizations, as well as governments, to get free software while students get experience. Officials say more than 65 successful projects have been developed by […]

  • News

    Diversity a theme at Walker transition conference in Anchorage

    by Shannon Ballard on Nov 22, 18:42

    It would be easy to have a closed-door discussion about the critical issues that face Alaska, but Gov.-elect Bill Walker says the conversation should belong to all Alaskans. “We get the best input the more people we have involved in the process,” said Walker. There is some risk associated with doing that. The bigger risk […]