• 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

    Officer struck by car in lot of South Anchorage Fred Meyer

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 28, 23:25

    The Anchorage Police Department has confirmed that an officer was struck by a car in the parking lot of Fred Meyer on Dimond Boulevard Saturday night. KTVA 11 News will have more details as they become available. Please check back for updates.

  • Sports

    Faeo, Quam win 2,000-mile Iron Dog race

    by Associated Press on Feb 28, 18:12

    Scott Faeo and Eric Quam crossed the finish line in downtown Fairbanks just after 12:30 p.m. Saturday to win the 2015 Iron Dog snowmachine race. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://ow.ly/JLUQU ) reports the duo claimed the title after leading much of the 2,000-mile course despite snowless conditions, open water and a coastal storm. Aaron Bartel […]

  • News

    Flights canceled in Nome, Bethel due to ash from Russian volcano eruption

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 28, 17:48

    The Alaska Volcano Observatory says there have been flight cancellations in Nome and Bethel, due to affected air travel after a volcanic eruption in Russia. Russia’s Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team notified the Alaska Observatory of the eruption just after 4 p.m. Friday afternoon. KVERT has issued an orange aviation color code after the Shiveluch Volcano […]

  • News

    AST: Man wanted after eluding troopers on Seward Highway, fleeing on foot

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 28, 13:28

    A Wanted Bulletin has been issued by Alaska State Troopers after an eluding incident on the Seward Highway. Troopers are also advising Seward Highway drivers not to pick up hitchhikers after a male driver failed to yield for a traffic stop and then fled on foot. Initially, the driver — identified as 32-year-old Andre Morris […]

  • News

    Mayor Sullivan: More funds needed to push SAP project forward

    by Lauren Maxwell on Feb 28, 11:31

    Anchorage’s troubled computer software system, known as SAP, needs more cash to get it going. Mayor Dan Sullivan’s administration asked the Anchorage Assembly Friday to spend $8.3 million to hire consultants who can help to push the project forward. Sullivan said the money will pay for contracts that would run through Sept. 30 and carry over […]

  • News

    Pedestrian running across Muldoon Road struck by SUV

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 28, 0:16

    A pedestrian running across Muldoon Road late Friday night was struck by an oncoming vehicle, police say. Just after 11 p.m., six units from the Anchorage Police Department responded to the scene of a collision involving a Toyota SUV and a male pedestrian near Duben Avenue. The driver remained on scene and was cooperating with […]

  • News

    2014 Alaska drug report shows increases in heroin and meth use

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Feb 27, 22:42

    A report highlighting cases related to substance abuse in Alaska in 2014 was released by the Department of Public Safety Friday. The Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit’s 2014 annual drug report covered arrests and seizures of items ranging from alcohol and prescription medication to heroin and meth labs. Over $28 million worth of drugs — in street […]

  • News

    CANstruction raises hunger awareness

    by Bonney Bowman on Feb 27, 21:04

    Making art and raising awareness about hunger, all with cans of food — the 2015 CANstruction food drive kicked off Friday at University Mall. Teams have 12 hours to build large sculptures, using only canned food. This year’s theme is “Under the Sea.” Organizers say it’s a great way to bring the issue of hunger in […]