Regulations were officially approved in Alaska to allow cannabis dispensaries to apply for on-site consumption permits.
While some city ordinances in states like California, where cannabis is also legal, have allowed some in-store cannabis use, Alaska is the first state to establish a statewide licensing system to permit patrons to use the cannabis products they purchase before leaving the dispensary.
The on-site cannabis consumption licensing process can be compared to the process used to permit bars and restaurants to serve alcohol on-site. The retail locations must meet certain requirements in order to operate.
The Alaska Marijuana Control Board approved the on-site-use regulations in December, and the Governor’s office recently signed off on them, making it official and allowing the process to proceed.
Retail shops may begin applying for an on-site consumption license as early as April 11 of this year, but Alaskans are not expected to see the new law in action before the middle of July, according to Erika McConnell, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office.
Executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association Cary Carrigan warns that Alaskans should not expect very many dispensaries to begin offering on-site use right away.
“This is something that’s not happening anywhere else in the U.S. yet,” Carrigan told the Associated Press. “As we start to develop this, people are really looking at us, so I know that everybody wants to get it right.” Rolling out a program like this takes time and patience, and changes can still be made depending on the feedback received between now and then.
“I don’t want to have to get this pulled back and revisited,” Carrigan added.
In order for an on-site consumption application to be considered for a permit, the dispensary must first meet several special requirements. For example, only dispensaries located in free standing buildings will be considered. Any shop that is located in a strip mall or connected in any other way to another business or building will not be allowed to apply for a license. It is possible that in the future dispensaries may be allowed to apply for edibles-only consumption permits even if they are not free standing.
In order to apply for a permit, the business will also have to install a high-quality ventilation system and take other security measures.
To comply with the state’s existing cigarette smoking laws, the cannabis-smoking section must be kept separate from the retail portion of the facility where patrons make their purchases. On top of that, assuming the retail location wants to allow patrons to smoke dried cannabis flower on-site, a separate, smoke-free area must also be built for employees to be able to monitor the consuming-section without being subjected to smoke inhalation.
Dispensary customers will not be permitted to use cannabis products that they bring from home or buy from a different location. All products that are used on-site must have been purchased on-site.
Local governments will be able to decide whether or not on-site consumption permits will be issued in their jurisdiction. They will also be able to ban only certain types of methods of administration like smoking. Those who choose to ban smoking may decide to allow vaporizing or eating edibles. Each municipality will be able to decide what fits best for their residents.
Allowing on-site consumption will be a game changer in Alaska, especially for tourists. Like in most states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use, it remains illegal to consume in public places like hotels, Airbnb rentals, parks, the sidewalk, etc. This often leaves tourists and property renters without a safe space to consume the cannabis products they can legally buy. Allowing for on-site use will change that.
Alaska might become the first place in the U.S. to officially permit recreational marijuana consumers the right to use cannabis in specially state-licensed establishments.
The state’s Marijuana Control Board on Wednesday published proposed changes to regulations allowing cannabis dispensaries to seek approval for onsite consumption.
An earlier proposal for consumption lounges was rejected in February 2017.
If approved, Alaska marijuana retail stores would be able to apply for an on-site consumption “endorsement.” Applications would cost $1,000, with annual renewals running $2,000.
According to the proposal, dispensaries could sell “marijuana bud or flower in quantities not to exceed one gram to any one person per day” and “edible marijuana products in quantities not to exceed 10 mg of THC to any one person per day” to customers to consume on the premises.
Patrons would be able to sample purchases made at the dispensary at either a “fenced-off outdoor area” or a separate indoor ventilated area,” the Fairbanks News Miner previously reported.
Cannabis concentrates and tobacco products would not be allowed in the consumption areas, and the rules don’t allow for people to BYOB (bring your own bud). Dispensary workers couldn’t consume marijuana at work, and there would have to be “a smoke-free area for employees to monitor the marijuana consumption area.”
Permits could be protested by local governments, but unless a local government explicitly bans on-site consumption, the state marijuana board would have the final say whether to grant the license.
If the changes are approved, Alaska would be the first state to allow such dispensary/lounge hybrids (or “sampling rooms”) at the state level.
Currently, a limited number of businesses in Denver that are not dispensaries can seek cannabis consumption lounges, following approval of a local ballot initiative.
The first, a coffee shop and cafe called The Coffee Joint, opened up in the spring. Several San Francisco dispensaries operating under permits from the medical cannabis era have consumption lounges.
But these are exceptions.
Advocates have argued that “consumption lounges” or other legal, permitted businesses where adults can consume marijuana without fear of penalty—for themselves or for the business—is one of the pieces missing from marijuana legalization, even as more states end prohibition or move in that direction.
In the states where marijuana is legal for adults 21 and over to consume, consumption in public is specifically forbidden and is punishable by a citation and fine.
Landlords also have the right to ban smoking in rental housing. This presents a conundrum. Such residents, including residents of subsidized units housing veterans or seniors, risk eviction if they consume marijuana inside. Outside, they risk a citation (or just public opprobrium). And tourists visiting legal marijuana states often have no place to consume their cannabis.
Alaska voters approved marijuana legalization in 2014.
Arguments against allowing consumption lounges similar to what consumers of alcohol take for granted—“bars”—include fears of stoned drivers causing havoc on roadways.
Regulators will accept written public comments on the proposed new rules until November 1, and will hold a public hearing on December 19 at which people can deliver oral feedback.
“After the public comment period ends, the Marijuana Control Board will either adopt the proposed regulation changes or other provisions dealing with the same subject, without further notice, or decide to take no action,” regulators’ notice says.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Alaska Could Be The First State To Legalize And License Marijuana Lounges
A woman in Anchorage, Alaska believes she knows the best way to combat the deadly synthetic marijuana epidemic that has crazed her town. By offering users dried cannabis flowers in exchange for their synthetic marijuana, also known as spice, Nicole Crites hopes to reduce the number of spice users on the street.
Spice, also referred to as K2, should not really be referred to as “synthetic marijuana” because it is not related to cannabis at all. Spice is just herbs that have been sprayed with synthetic cannabinoids. These synthetic chemicals are designed to imitate the the cannabinoids which occur naturally in cannabis and give users a sensation of being high that is different than that from marijuana.
Spice, which is among those listed as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, is not regulated and therefore offers no ingredients on the label for users to see what they are actually consuming. The effects of abuse can be devastatingly harmful and even fatal. Symptoms of spice overdose include vomiting, extreme agitation and psychotic episodes including hallucinations, and even heart attacks.
“Just driving down Karluk Street, anytime of day, you’ll find people passed out from it. I don’t see it addressed by anybody,”
Crites reports that she has been thinking about this idea for quite some time, and she is now bringing her idea into reality. She plans to find spice users on the streets of Anchorage and offer them the chance to exchange it for free marijuana. For every gram of spice a user is willing to destroy in front of her, she will reward them with twice the amount in cannabis flowers.
The Anchorage Municipal Attorney’s Office has a much different outlook on the spice epidemic, and says Crites’ program is “potentially illegal.” Warning her of walking a legal fine line, the Anchorage police department has reached out to Crites to ensure she is aware of the laws. As long as she does not personally come into possession of the spice and the marijuana is given only as a gift to those who are of legal age to consume it, then she is not breaking the law.
Crites stated her first “spice destruction, harm reduction” exchange will go forth as planned, and that she does not anticipate halting the program anytime soon. She explained,
“I just need to go forward. If you feel like you’re doing something right, you do it.”
Crites is married to the the owner of Anchorage’s Absolutely Chronic Delivery Company, and their dispensary will be providing the cannabis to be donated in this marijuana exchange campaign.
Good problems to have in the Last Frontier – where the Alaska state government is trying to figure out what to do with the anticipated influx of cash from legal cannabis sales.
“It’s an uncharted territory. … We don’t have any precedent to go off of, really,”
said Claire Lettow, regulations specialist for the state Tax Division.
No banking institutions in the state have shown they are willing to work with cannabis businesses yet, which presents a huge issue with Alaska’s Department of Revenue estimating that it will take in between $5.1 million and $19.2 million in tax revenue from legal cannabis sales in 2016.
The state has plans of hiring an auditor and tax technician to handle potential issues, but have noted there’s no bandwidth to invest in other options – like armored vehicles for secure transport.
Storing large amounts of cash from legal cannabis sales has been one the most severe issues plaguing the cannabis industry since legalization. Although there have been marginal successes in Colorado and Washington, the road for equal banking treatment continues to be a bumpy one.
The state plans to hold 3 workshops where the general public can share their opinions on the matter. Please find dates and locations below.
Fairbanks: Tuesday, Sept. 29, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Legislative Information Office, 1292 Sadler Way, Suite 308
Juneau: Thursday, Oct. 1, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Centennial Hall, 101 Egan Dr.
Access code: 86539
Anchorage: Wednesday, October 7, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Atwood Building, 550 W. 7th Ave, Suite 104
Access code: 86539