Alaska’s State Medical Marijuana Registry Continues Rapid Growth

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Under Alaska state law, a chronically ill resident with a medical marijuana card can legally own up to one ounce of marijuana, or cultivate up to six marijuana plants

With all of the dangerous occupations that Alaskans participate in their cold – inhospitable environment, it’s not shocking to find many are turning to medical marijuana, seeking relief from those nagging daily aches and pains. Also not surprising, Alaska’s state medical marijuana registry has cultivated strong growth in the past few years.

Meet Larry Yingling, Larry depends on his medical marijuana to bring relief to the haunting pain from a fractured spine, a broken neck and other life altering injuries he suffered during his military training over five years ago. Larry received his medical marijuana card after visiting a doctor and qualifying for a doctor’s recommendation through The Healing Center Medical Clinic in Anchorage.

“I was like, that’s me. Because I always wanted one. And I knew it was right, morally,” said Yingling.

The medical pot clinic opened for business late last year and provides product for ill patients with a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana. During its first year in Alaska, the state’s medical marijuana program grew a massive 230%. Back In 2009, while the states medical marijuana program was still germinating, it processed a total of 56 requests for medical marijuana, noted Phillip Mitchell – the section chief for vital statistics in Alaska. While in 2011, a total of 273 medical marijuana cards were issued to Alaska’s residents. Continuing that upward trend, in 2012 more than 900 cards were issued, said Mitchell. Now, as of January 30, 2013… Alaska’s rapidly growing medical marijuana registry is nearing 1,500 people.

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Under Alaska state law, a chronically ill resident with a medical marijuana card can legally own up to one ounce of marijuana, or cultivate up to six marijuana plants provided no more than three of the pot plants are budding. While medical marijuana is legal in Alaska, the buying and selling of any pot is still illegal, so Alaska’s pot patients must still grow their own medicine, or rely on the kindness of a qualified caregiver.

“You can’t buy it, but you can give it,” said Yingling. “I’d love to see dispensaries up here.”

Many of Alaska’s pot patients rely on the kindness of those within their 420 community and have created a tightly laced ‘green network’ for sharing their medicine, as Alaska’s law does not provide any answers how patients are supposed to obtain the highly sought after medicine. Adrienne, an Anchorage woman who was not into sharing her last name (not shocking), has created a bit of a side job…delivering homemade edibles,  rich in cannabinoids, to Alaska’s medical marijuana card holders. And her business is booming… as she handles around 60 + home deliveries a week.

“what the state is kind of forcing us to do is to work as a community because of the fact that there hasn’t been a dispensary,” said Adrienne.

Adrienne’s tasty edibles are not “for sale”, as that would be illegal, but she accepts “donations”. She likes to think of  it as an “exchange” between card-holders. The patients give her the weed, she makes the tasty treats, and charges a drop off fee. Adrienne requires a valid medical marijuana card and ID be shown when she arrives and says she has turned down a few people in the past.

As patients like Yingling stand up and testify… medical marijuana continues to grow in popularity as an alternative to OTC prescription pills for pain relief. Yingling was thrilled with how medical marijuana has changed his life.

“It’s an all around medicine. It’s wonderful.”

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