Due to its non-central location compared with the rest of the United States and common border with Canada, Alaska has become a transit zone for drug smugglers. The state also has become a major consumer of illicit drugs despite is remote location. The majority of the drug trade is carried out by the Mexican and Dominican drug organizations or cartels.
Over the past 2 decades, Alaska has seen some of the highest per capital use of controlled drugs and large drug seizures have become common. Associated with the illicit drug trade is one of the highest incidences of alcoholism, money laundering, violence, rape and suicide when compared to the rest of the United States.
The major drug trafficked in Alaska is crack cocaine. The trafficking is usually done by the Mexican and Dominican organizations. The cocaine originates from the Southern USA arriving via South America. Because of Alaska’s remote location and difficulty bringing in drugs, the drug cartels resell cocaine at exorbitant prices. In addition to cocaine, black tar heroin is also available in Alaska. The spread of this drug is done by the Mexican organizations.
Today, Oxycontin and methamphetamine have replaced heroin as the drug of abuse. Like all other states, methamphetamine abuse has become an epidemic in Alaska because of its easy availability and cheap price. To counter the methamphetamine abuse, legislation has been passed to remove pseudoephedrine from cold remedies. This legal maneuver has helped decrease the abuse of methamphetamine. Drug trafficking organizations obtain the majority of methamphetamine for sale in Alaska from the Southern USA and transport it across state lines using various couriers systems.
Club Drugs are also becoming widely abused in Alaska and the business is very profitable for the traffickers. The club drugs are easily available at most night clubs. Club Drugs are also the drugs of choice for abuse among college students.
Marijuana is the most abused and widespread drug in Alaska. Unlike other states, Bill HB49 has been introduced which re-criminalizes the use and possession of marijuana. The majority of marijuana is home grown in sophisticated laboratories. However, the potent and more pure form of marijuana known as BC Bud continues to be smuggled in from Canada.
Prescription drugs are the second most commonly abused drugs. These drugs are easily accessed by illegal dispensing; prescribing by physicians or pharmacists, prescription forgery, doctor shopping, drug thefts from pharmacies and online sales. The drugs most commonly abused include oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan), Hydrocodone ( Vicodin, Lortab), and anabolic steroids.
To counter the drug traffickers, various DEA mobile enforcement teams have been established in Alaska. This cooperative program with state and local law enforcement counterparts were established in response to the escalating problem of drug-related violent crime in the State. While these mobile units have not eradicated the drug problem, they certainly have led to more arrests of criminals and gangs.
Alaska has recently allowed patients to use medical marijuana if they have specified medical conditions, a state registry ID card and the advice of a physician. Caregivers must also have the ID cards to avoid prosecution for distribution of marijuana. This law was enacted in March of 1999 after voters passed Ballot Measure #8. However, a proposal is now being considered to overturn the state's lenient marijuana laws.
To assist victims of drug abuse, the State is now using money collected from drug traffickers to pay for Drug Rehabilitation and Drug Treatment Programs. A few in-patient drug programs and outpatient drug programs have been established to help the victims.