Possession of a Controlled Substance in Alaska

Learn about the penalties for drug possession in Alaska

All states regulate and control the possession for personal use of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for possession. Alaska considers not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine controlled substances, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

This article discusses possession of CDS for personal use only. The possession of CDS for sale or distribution carries different penalties.

For more information on possession of CDS for sale or distribution, see Sale of Controlled Substances in Alaska.

How Alaska Classifies Controlled Dangerous Substances

Alaska divides its CDS into six groups or “schedules” (IA through VIA), based on the potential for harm to the user.

  • Schedule IA drugs (such as opium derivatives) are those considered to have the highest degree of possible danger to users.
  • Schedule IIA drugs (such as peyote and PCP) have a lower degree of possible danger to users that Schedule IA drugs but higher than Schedule IIIA drugs.
  • Schedule IIIA drugs (such as hashish) have a lower degree of possible danger than Schedule IIA drugs but higher than Schedule IVA drugs.
  • Schedule IVA drugs (such as barbiturates and diazepam) have a lower degree of possible danger than Schedule IIIA drugs but higher than Schedule VA drugs.
  • Schedule VA drugs (such as anabolic steroids and some dosages of codeine) have a lower degree of possible danger than Schedule IVA drugs but higher than Schedule VIA drugs.
  • Schedule VIA drugs are considered to have the lowest degree of danger to users. Currently the only VIA drug listed is marijuana.

If you’ve been arrested for possession of CDS, in order to know what charges you may be facing, you’ll need to consult the Alaska Codes that list precisely which drugs, and in what amounts, fit into each schedule. Those statutes are Alaska Code Sections 11.71.140 to 11.71.190.

Some CDS, such as codeine, a common painkiller, may be possessed legally so long as the holder has a valid prescription.

Felony Possession of CDS

Alaska classifies all CDS crimes into five degrees, misconduct in the first-degree being the most serious. CDS possession involves degrees three through six. Third and fourth degree misconduct involving possession of CDS are felonies. Felonies are divided into unclassified, Class A, Class B, and Class C. Unclassified and Class A felonies receive the harshest sentences.

Misconduct involving CDS in the 4th degree

Misconduct involving CDS in the 4th degree is a Class C felony. Class C felony possession includes:

  • possession of any amount of schedule IA or IIA CDS
  • possession of 25 or more tablets, vials, or syringes of a schedule IIIA or IVA CDS
  • possession of any substance or combination of substances weighing three grams or more that contains schedule IIIA or IVA CDS
  • possession of 50 or more tablets, vials, or syringes that contain a schedule VA CDS
  • possession of any substance or combination of substances weighing six grams or more that contains schedule VA CDS
  • possession of any substance or combination of substances weighing four ounces or more that contains a schedule VIA CDS
  • possession of 25 or more marijuana plants, and
  • possession of schedule IIIA, IVA, VA or VIA CDS that occurs within 500 feet of a school, youth or recreation center, or on a school bus.

The penalty for a Class C felony is imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine of up to $50,000.

Misconduct involving CDS in the 3rd Degree

Possession of certain CDS within 500 feet of a school, youth or recreation center, or on a bus becomes not just 4th, but 3rd degree possession when the drugs are in Schedule IA or IIA. Such possession is a Class B felony, whose penalties include imprisonment for up to 10 years and a fine of up to $100,000. (Alaska Code Sections 11.70.030-040.)

Misdemeanor Possession of CDS

Misdemeanor crimes are less serious than felonies and are punishable by less jail time and smaller fines. Alaska provides for two levels of misdemeanor punishment for some CDS possession: misconduct involving CDS in the 5th and 6th degrees. The 5th degree is the more serious of the two.

Misconduct involving CDS in the 5th degree

Misconduct involving CDS in the 5th degree is a Class A misdemeanor and includes:

  • possession of less than 25 tablets, vials, or syringes of a schedule IIIA or IVA CDS
  • possession of any substance or combination of substances weighing less than three grams that contains schedule IIIA or IVA CDS
  • possession of less than 50 tablets, vials, or syringes that contain a schedule VA CDS
  • possession of one or more compounds, preparations, or combination of substances weighing one ounce or more that contains a schedule VA CDS, and
  • possession of one or more compounds, preparations, or combination of substances weighing one ounce or more that contains a schedule VIA CDS.

The penalty for Class A misdemeanor possession is up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Misconduct involving CDS in the 6th degree

Misconduct involving CDS in the 6th degree is a Class B misdemeanor and includes:

  • possession or display of any amount of a schedule VIA CDS, and
  • possession of one or more compounds, preparations, or combination of substances weighing less than one ounce that contain a schedule VIA CDS.

The penalty for a Class B misdemeanor possession is up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. However, the court cannot impose jail time if:

  • the defendant alleges, and the court finds, that the marijuana was for personal use only
  • the marijuana was kept in the defendant’s home, and
  • the defendant has no more than one prior conviction for possession of marijuana.

(Alaska Code Sections 11.71.030-060 and 12.55.035, 125 and 135.)

Repeat or Habitual Offenders

Like most states, Alaska imposes increasingly harsh sentences on individuals with any prior felony convictions.

One prior felony conviction:

  • A second Class B felony conviction carries a penalty of four to seven years.
  • A second Class C felony conviction carries a penalty of two to four years.

Two prior felony convictions:

  • A third Class B felony conviction carries a penalty of six to ten years.
  • A third Class C felony conviction carries a penalty of three to five years.

Talk To An Attorney

A CDS conviction can result in long jail terms and steep fines. If you have a previous record, any new convictions will result in steeper penalties. An attorney knowledgeable about CDS possession will review the facts of your case and help you decide whether to fight the charges, whether to negotiate a plea agreement, and whether you have a chance at a dismissal.

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