• 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

  • Crime

    Officers involved in Palmer shooting that left K-9 dead identified

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 28, 9:19

    Alaska State Troopers have identified the officers involved in a weekend shooting that left a suspect injured and an trooper K-9 dead. A complaint filed Monday at the Palmer Courthouse states that at 5:20 a.m. Sunday, Palmer Police Department Officer Szipszky tried to pull over a green sedan, carrying four people, for having a tail […]

  • News

    Multiple agencies rescue Palmer climber impaled with ice ax

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 28, 8:24

    A Palmer woman fell while hiking Pioneer Peak on Tuesday, lodging an ice ax into her back and prompting a rescue by multiple agencies. In an online dispatch, Alaska State Troopers (AST) stated 23-year-old Shawnee Whitehorse was climbing with a partner at 9:44 p.m. Tuesday when she fell and, “had an ice axe (sic) lodged […]

  • Crime

    Burglar gets away with $170,000 of cash, goods

    by Associated Press on Sep 28, 7:17

    Juneau police are investigating after about $170,000 in cash, gold, jewelry and other goods was reported stolen on Douglas Island. KTOO-FM reports that police say in a news release officers responded Sunday to a report that a building off North Douglas Highway had been burglarized. The robbery affected a business and a private residence in the […]

  • News

    Warm Springs Bay: A secret gem locals would like to keep secret

    by Emily Carlson on Sep 27, 23:46

    In Warm Springs Bay, the clouds and ocean mark the time. Herring pounce on giant salmon, swallowing them in one gulp. Fishermen travel hundreds of miles out of their way to bathe in the public baths fueled by the nearby hot springs. At the Alaska Whale Research Center, biologists’ lives revolve around the ever-changing wind. […]

  • Sports

    UAA hockey now gets to the ice after months of talk

    by Dave Goldman on Sep 27, 23:22

    Finally. The talk ends. In the case of the University of Alaska Anchorage Seawolves, the discussion of breaking a two-year playoff drought was replaced all off-season with the constant chatter of whether or not the program will be around next year. That possibility still lingers. Budget cuts are coming. But at media day on Tuesday the […]

  • News

    Salvation Army’s Eagle Crest transitional housing center to close its doors Friday

    by Daniella Rivera on Sep 27, 22:52

    As a landscaping crew mowed the lawn Tuesday, all seemed like business as usual outside Eagle Crest, but inside the walls of the 76-bed facility, residents said there’s panic and uncertainty. “We feel like we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said resident Jason Gladney. Gladney and Rodney Sampson say the Salvation Army […]

  • News

    Cuddy Family Park pond shows comeback as fewer people feed the birds

    by Lauren Maxwell on Sep 27, 22:44

    A year ago it was one of the dirtiest waterways in Anchorage, but now the pond at Cuddy Family Park in midtown Anchorage may be as clean as it’s ever been. Thom Northon with the Anchorage Waterways Council has been measuring fecal coliform rates for two years at the park. Last August, a sample taken […]

  • News

    Former Israeli President Shimon Peres dead at 93

    by CBS News on Sep 27, 19:59

    Even to his own people, Shimon Peres was a puzzle. He spoke eloquent Hebrew, but with a foreign accent, lacked formal education yet brimmed with culture, was a mediocre politician, but became a statesman of spectacular vision. Numerous reports have stated that former Israeli President Shimon Peres has passed away at the age of 93. […]