Medical professionals recommending medical cannabis must be physicians that are either (i) licensed to practice medicine in the state of Alaska or (ii) an officer in the regular medical service of the armed forces of the United States or the United States Public Health Service while in the discharge of their official duties, or volunteering services without pay or other remuneration to a hospital, clinic, medical office, or other medical facility in Alaska.

Statutory requirements include:

  • A signed physician’s statement concluding a physical examination of the patient took place in the context of a bona fide physician-patient relationship, including the date the examination occurred.
  • The patient must be diagnosed with a qualifying debilitating medical condition (as defined below).
  • Written confirmation that in the physician’s professional opinion, after consideration of other approved medications and treatments that might provide relief, are reasonably available to the patient, and that can be tolerated by the patient, the physician has concluded that the patient might benefit from the medical use of marijuana.
  • A patient may not receive registration unless the physician discloses that the patient was personally examined by the physician within the 16-month period immediately preceding the patient's application or the date by which the patient is required to annually resubmit written documentation.
  • The law requires that within 24 hours of a physician diagnosing a patient who no longer has a debilitating medical condition, all registry identification cards for caregiver and patient must be returned to the department.

Qualifying Debilitating Medical Conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
  • Treatment for any of these conditions; any chronic or debilitating disease or treatment for such diseases, which produces, for a specific patient, one or more of the following, and for which, in the professional opinion of the patient’s physician, such condition or conditions reasonably may be alleviated by the medical use of the marijuana:
    • Cachexia
    • Severe pain
    • Severe nausea
    • Seizures, including those that are characteristic of epilepsy
    • Persistent muscle spasms, including those that are characteristic or multiple sclerosis
  • Any other medical condition, or treatment for such condition, approved by the Department of Health’s regulations.

More information on the physician’s role, such as the Physician Statement Form can be found on the state of Alaska’s Department of Health website.

Medical professionals have a legal right to recommend cannabis as a treatment in any state, as protected by the First Amendment. Established by a 2004 United States Supreme Court decision to uphold earlier federal court rulings that found doctors and their patients have a fundamental Constitutional right to freely discuss treatment options.

More resources for medical professionals can be found here.