• 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

    Walker makes pitch for opening ANWR to Obama administration

    by Associated Press on Oct 08, 16:56

    Gov. Bill Walker has lobbied members of President Barack Obama’s administration on opening up parts of an Alaska refuge to oil drilling. Walker met with reporters Thursday after returning from Washington, D.C. Walker told Interior Secretary Sally Jewell his hopes of filling the trans-Alaska pipeline with oil drilled from a small section of the Arctic […]

  • Lifestyle

    YKHC gets $165 million loan from USDA-Rural Development for expansion

    by Manny Creech on Oct 08, 16:28

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development granted the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) in Bethel a $165 million loan. The loan will help build a new 129,600-square foot primary care clinic and remodel the existing 110,000-square foot hospital in Bethel, which serves the Yukon-Delta Region of Alaska. YKHC is one of the only health care providers […]

  • News

    Cuts are not on hold, says Army, but are under review

    by Bonney Bowman on Oct 08, 16:21

    Force reduction cuts at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson are not on hold, says Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, a public affairs officer with the U.S. Army. Reports have been circulating the cuts of 2,700 soldiers from JBER’s 4/25 Airborne Brigade Combat Team have been put on hold, but Buccino says that’s not the case. ‘The planned force […]

  • News

    Delta flight turns back after striking bird

    by Associated Press on Oct 08, 15:57

    Officials with the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport say a Delta Air Lines flight headed from Seattle to Hong Kong has turned back and landed safely after striking a bird. KIRO-TV reports that an alert was issued for flight 281 at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday. It was over the Olympic mountains when it turned around and landed […]

  • News

    Unusually high number of sea otter deaths reported in Kachemak Bay

    by Heather Hintze on Oct 08, 15:56

    An unusually high number of dead and dying sea otters have been found in the Kachemak Bay area near Homer this year. Staff from the Alaska SeaLife Center and experts from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working to figure out what’s killing off the otters at such a rapid rate. “More recently, animals […]

  • News

    Big Lake pilot killed in plane crash near Houston High School

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 08, 14:52

    The sole occupant of a small, single-engine aircraft was killed after their plane crashed near Houston High School, according to officials. Alaska State Troopers say family and friends at the scene identified the pilot as 23-year-old Joseph “Joe” Mielke, of Big Lake. Mielke was taking off from a nearby aircraft frame shop when the crash […]

  • News

    UPDATE: Enstar, fire crews respond to gas leak near Potter Marsh

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 08, 14:13

    Last Updated: Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015 at 4:42 p.m. Fire crews have left the scene and motorists are no longer being turned away. Officials on scene said ENSTAR was doing work on a valve on their line and it resulted in the inadvertent escape of gas. Original Story: Anchorage police and fire crews are on scene […]

  • DayBreak

    Pulse Dance Company discusses season kick-off show in Anchorage

    by Daybreak Staff on Oct 08, 13:00

    Since 2010, Anchorage’s Pulse Dance Company has put together shows that can best be described as quirky, crazy and beautiful. This weekend, the company is kicking off its sixth concert season with wigs, wine, dancing and food. Each year the dance company does something different. This year the audience can expect a little bit of […]