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Regulatory scheme

Medical use of marijuana was legalized in Alaska after the 1998 election. The law allows certified physicians to recommend treatment with medical marijuana to their patients with qualifying debilitating diseases. Patients must register with the state, and thereafter may legally possess, use, and cultivate limited quantities of marijuana.[1]

The law authorizing marijuana for medical use does not provide guidance or regulation related to the legal opening and operation of marijuana dispensaries within the state. With the approval of adult-use of marijuana, effective 2016, new regulatory structures were codified that cover all aspects of the marijuana industry in Alaska. Medical and retail marijuana now share a common set of regulations, including those for inventory tracking and laboratory testing.[1]

Licensing requirements

Alaska defines four types of marijuana establishments: retail marijuana store, marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, and marijuana testing facilities. All establishments must be licensed by the Marijuana Control Board, and each of the four types has its own license.

Marijuana testing facilities

A person or organization may not offer or provide marijuana testing services or results unless they have applied for and obtained a Marijuana Testing Facility license. There is an initial application that is common to all establishments, followed by a supplemental application for the specific type of facility. Testing facility icensing requirements do not apply to a licensed marijuana establishment that conducts in-house testing using its own equipment to test material produced within the same facility.

Conflict of interest

The code specifically states that a holder of a marijuana testing facility license may not hold another type of marijuana license in Alaska. Further, the licensee, or any employee or agent of the licensed testing facility are prohibited from having an ownership interest or direct or indirect financial interest in another licensed marijuana establishment within the state. Finally, the licensee may not have a financial interest in common with a person who holds a license in Alaska for a marijuana establishment other than a testing facility.

Privileges and prohibitions

Licensed marijuana testing facilities may have any amount of marijuana/products on premises at any given time as long as facility inventory tracking system used and indicates all marijuana on site is for testing purposes. However, distribution, sale, or transfer of marijuana directly to a consumer is prohibited, as is consumption of marijuana by anyone while on the premises of the testing facility.

SOP requirements

Testing facilities must have a written manual of standard operating procedures (SOPs) on site and available to all employees at all times. It must provide detailed instructions on how to perform each testing method the facility uses, as well as the minimum standards for each test. The SOP manual must cover:

  • Sample preparation for each matrix that will be tested
  • Reagent, solution, and reference standard preparation
  • Instrument setup, if applicable
  • Data acquisition
  • Calculation of results
  • Identification criteria
  • Quality control frequency
  • Quality control acceptance criteria
  • Corrective action protocols

Personnel qualifications

Scientific director

(3 AAC 306.630. Scientific director) LMTFs must employ a scientific director who is responsible for managing and directing laboratory operations within the testing facility; the scientific director will also be responsible for supervising all staff at the facility, and ensuring the work done in the laboratory meets required quality standards. The person filling this role must meet minimum education/experience qualifications by holding:

  • A doctorate degree in chemical or biological sciences with at least two years post-degree lab experience, or
  • A master's degree in chemical or biological sciences with at least four years post-degree lab experience, or
  • A bachelor's degree in chemical or biological sciences with at least six years post-degree lab experience

Marijuana handler permit

Per the general operating requirements for all marijuana establishments (3 AAC 306.700. "Article 7"), all licensees, employees, agents of a licensed marijuana establishment who sell, cultivate, manufacture, test, or transport marijuana in any form, or who check identification of consumers or visitors, must apply for and obtain a marijuana handler permit prior to beginning employment at the establishment.

Applicants must first complete an education course approved by the Marijuana Control Board that addresses topics such as the statutory law and codes governing the marijuana industry in Alaska; the effects of consumption of marijuana; identifying a person who is impaired by marijuana consumption; how to determine valid identification; how to intervene to prevent unlawful marijuana consumption; and the penalties for unlawful acts by a licensee, an employee, or agent of a marijuana establishment. After completing the course, applicants must demonstrate they understand the material by passing a written test. A permit is then issued as long as the person meets certain criteria for a criminal background check. 3 AAC 306.700.(f) (Marijuana handler permit - DQs)

Handling permits must be in the holder's immediate possession or a valid copy on file in the testing facility at all times when on the premises. Permits may be renewed every three years upon passing another written exam.

6. Testing Required

Physical Plant Reqs

3 AAC 306.715. Security alarm systems and lock standards 3 AAC 306.720. Video surveillance

Upcoming Changes to Alaska Administrative Code A number of changes have been proposed to 3 AAC 306 et seq, and have been held out for public comment/objections. Hearing will be in mid-December 2018. These changes pertain only to the creation of an endorsement to the retail cannabis store license that permits consumption of cannabis and associated products on-premises. The endorsement only affects retail stores, with no lab implications.


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