Beginning Oct. 8, pot shops across Alaska will be able to hand out free marijuana samples and more easily engage in widespread promotional activities.

Signed off by Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom on Sept. 8, the relaxed rules follow recommendations by the state’s Marijuana Control Board to make it easier for licensed weed dispensaries to offload their product to the general public.

Under the new regulations pot shops can erect more signage outside their facilities, distribute coupons and engage in offsite promotional activities. They can also advertise on college campuses, buses and bus stops, and place ads within 1,000 feet of substance abuse or treatment facilities.

In 2014, Alaska legalized marijuana for recreational reasons. There are now nearly 200 retail stores along with several hundred cultivation facilities.

Alaska’s new regulations come at a time when Gallup has found that 50% of Americans now say they have tried marijuana at some point, a new all-time high. In 1969 only 4% of Americans said they had tried marijuana.

About one in six Americans (17%) say they currently “smoke marijuana,” which is also a new record, and more than double the number who said the same in 2013.

A separate Gallup report shows that current marijuana use is highest among 18-to-34-year-olds (29%), while adults without a college degree are about twice as likely as college graduates to smoke it.

In terms of public concern, Gallup found that 45% of Americans are “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the trend. That increases, however, when it comes to marijuana’s effects on young adults or teens who are regular users, with 75% of Americans saying they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned.

While supporters of legal marijuana claim it brings health benefits and increases tax revenue, critics of widespread marijuana consumption say it impairs short-term memory, increases engagement in risky behaviors and impairs driving.

Others warn that heavy and long-term cannabis use in adolescents carries substantial risks, including altered brain developmentadverse psychological outcomes and mental illness.

A 2022 report in Tablet notes that modern-day marijuana is unrecognizable to that of the 1960s. The now edible, vapeable, and drinkable cannabis-based products are far more potent than the weed of decades past. “Addiction medicine doctors and relatives of addicts say it has become a hardcore drug, like cocaine or methamphetamines,” Tablet reports. “Chronic use leads to the same outcomes commonly associated with those harder substances: overdose, psychosis, suicidality. And yet it’s been marketed as a kind of elixir and sold like candy for grown-ups.”

Since widespread legalization of recreational marijuana is a relatively recent phenomenon, there remains a shortage of long-term studies about the effects of increased consumption on society.

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Alaska lets pot shops give free samples, advertise on colleges & near substance abuse facilities

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


  • Recommended Reading says:
    Marijuana Legalization: Smoke and Mirrors

  • DaveMaxwell says:

    Want a state job? The dude pictured will be your supervisor!

  • caleb says:

    So are the Watchman readers against freedom? Against government restrictions of commerce?

    • John H Slone says:

      Government has an obligation from God to protect the public. Free enterprise and commerce are secondary to that.

      • Valley chapel services says:

        Slone. It’s incumbent on you to prove your god exists before we redirect government obligations.

  • Elizabeth Henry says:

    Wondering if samples of alcohol can be handed out as well? Can alcohol be advertised also at bus stops, college campuses, buses, etc? And why not coupons for whiskey? Likely not. Why a double standard for intoxicants? Marijuana is a stupid drug for stupid people. It has been very effective at lulling the masses into leftist complacency hence why the push and enthusiasm to legalize and then give free rein to promote.

  • Jen says:

    Even alcohol distributors can’t give out free samples because of liability serving to an underage consumer. As well as if something happened to the consumer because of over consuming it make the distributor liable.

    • Bill Fikes says:

      Seeing as ID cards are checked on entry it is not very likely that any cannabis shops will be handing out free weed to minors, but real dandy right wing scare tactic ya got there.

  • Jen says:

    I been wondering if churches can advertise their services and program times on buses. Cause if they can then programs like Recovery Alaska need bus signs

    • Proud Alaskan says:

      No, the government just shuts down church services and keeps the pot shops open,
      go figure

      • DaveMaxwell says:

        Why the concern of churches vs government? The church chose to be irrelevant! It is no threat to the government! The church purposely chose this! It is not motivated by government intrusion!

  • Colorado Conservative says:

    Colorado legalized recreational weed in 2012 and this state has gone downhill ever since. Pot shops everywhere, grow operations sucking up the water, cartels present in the state controlling weed operations, out of control crime, and homeless weed-heads on every corner begging for money. My own personal experience was with weed in the 60’s with THC levels no where near what they are today. I have an older sibling who has used weed for decades and it does appear to have affected her mentally long term.

    • Valley chapel services says:

      Two examples of illogical reasoning.

    • Bill Fikes says:

      “homeless weed-heads” Right. I have every confidence that your older sibling that has used weed for decades has a far greater mental acuity than you.