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Alaska Officially Adopts Regulations To Allow On-Site Cannabis Consumption at Dispensaries

Alaska Officially Adopts Regulations To Allow On-Site Cannabis Consumption at Dispensaries

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.

The Rules

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.

Atlanta Police Department No Longer Rejects Applicants For Having Used Cannabis

Atlanta Police Department No Longer Rejects Applicants For Having Used Cannabis

In a surprisingly progressive move, the Atlanta Police Department announced that potential recruits will no longer be rejected for admitting that they have used cannabis in the past. In fact, the question regarding cannabis consumption has been completely removed from the department’s applicant pre-screening questionnaire.

Until recently, applicants were asked if they had consumed cannabis at any time in the last two years. According to the old policy, if the applicant answered ‘yes’ to that question, he or she was automatically rejected.

While seemingly groundbreaking for a department in a state where cannabis has not yet been legalized, the city’s police chief made clear this shift in policy does not give current Atlanta police officers the green light to start smoking marijuana. An applicant’s previous use of cannabis may no longer come into question, but active officers still may not consume the plant in any form.

“The use of, and attitude toward, both medical and recreational marijuana in the United States is rapidly evolving,” said Carlos Campos, the Atlanta Police Department’s director of public affairs.

“We’re not concerned so much that you used marijuana in the past, but you cannot work here as a police officer and use it,” continued Campos. “You cannot smoke marijuana if you’re an Atlanta police officer. Period. End of story.”

High Quality Officers Needed

The motivation behind the shift in policy comes from needing to attract more high-quality recruits, according to the announcement made by Chief Erika Shields. The Atlanta Police Department has seen a decline in applicants who are able to make it beyond the drug use screening in recent years. Before the policy reform, up to 60 percent of applicants had been rejected for answering ‘yes’ to the cannabis use question.

“Given the reality of this landscape, the Atlanta Police Department is increasingly encountering young applicants who are admitting to marijuana use, a question we have traditionally used to screen potential officers,” said Campos. “The result is that we are eliminating candidates who are otherwise qualified to become police officers.”

“We have to be practical about this, so that’s the change that we made,” said chief Shields after announcing the policy change. “Hopefully we’ll see it offset some of the numbers.”

Higher Salaries

Removing the cannabis screening from the hiring process isn’t the only thing the department is doing in an effort to attract more qualified applicants. They’re also offering more money. The starting salary for rookie officers in Atlanta was recently raised, and newly sworn in Atlanta police officers can expect to make $48,500.

The department has been sharing recruitment ads on its Facebook page which read, “JOIN THE ELITE APD: Looking for a fresh start in a law enforcement career? The Atlanta Police Department is hiring for police officers and we have competitive new salaries with starting officer pay beginning at $48,500.”

Higher pay and past drug use forgiveness aside, new recruits and veteran officers alike can expect to be drug tested. According to the Atlanta Police Department, there will be an increase in random drug testing to weed out officers who do not follow the law.

The department is hoping to fill 350 vacancies as soon as possible, and they expect the recent policy changes to make all the difference.

Decriminalization

While the state of Georgia may be slow moving when it comes to cannabis policy reform, the capital city of Atlanta continues to be progressive. The possession of up to one ounce of cannabis was decriminalized in Fulton County in October 2017. Instead of facing up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, the penalty for personal possession is now just a citation with a maximum fine of up to $75.

Photos Courtesy of Atlanta Police Department

Push To Legalize Marijuana Consumption Spaces In Oregon Kicks Off

Push To Legalize Marijuana Consumption Spaces In Oregon Kicks Off

An Oregon lawmaker is preparing a renewed push to legalize marijuana consumption lounges—and, if going through the state legislature doesn’t work, a coalition of cannabis businesses and advocates says they are prepared to go to the ballot.

As in most other states that have ended marijuana prohibition for adults, efforts to allow “cannabis cafes” or other licensed businesses where adults can consume the drug together socially have thus far been stymied.

Across the country, the only cities that permit spaces for marijuana consumption are San Francisco, where some dispensaries dating from the medical-marijuana era have consumption lounges, and Denver, where a recent ballot measure allows businesses that do not sell cannabis to apply for such a permit.

Alaska regulators released draft rules this week that, if enacted, would make the state the first in the nation to specifically allow and license social cannabis consumption areas.

In other legalized states and jurisdictions, tourists and people who live in subsidized housing often have no place to use marijuana without breaking the rules.

Failing to accommodate marijuana consumers “is an equity issue,” said Sam Chapman, an Oregon-based political consultant. “It’s an issue of public accommodation.”

“If you look up the definition of public accommodation [under laws like the Americans With Disabilities Act], I cannot think of a better example that cannabis would fall under,” he said. “Patients do not have places to legally consume their medicine. The state is housing veterans and seniors who need to be able to consume cannabis legally—and the state is not providing a place for that.”

A new political action committee, comprised of “cannabis industry businesses and allies,” called the New Revenue Coalition believes that 2019 will be the year to provide those accommodations in Oregon.

Portland-area state Sen. Lew Frederick (D) plans to introduce a bill that would allow for stand-alone cannabis “consumption cafes” as well as “tasting rooms” at dispensaries and cultivation sites.

According to a bill summary provided to Marijuana Moment, the bill would also:

*Legalize tours “similar to those conducted by the state’s microbrewery and winery industry”

*Allow delivery services to bring cannabis to hotels and into cities and counties that prohibit regulated cannabis businesses

*Allow for cannabis consumption spaces at public events

No legislative language exists yet, and the earliest Frederick could introduce a bill is for the 2019 session beginning in January.

Consumption spaces have so far been missing from the state’s legalization puzzle, a compromise made to help soothe fears around introducing recreational marijuana.

Now that the cannabis industry has proved that it is a responsible and profitable pursuit—and one that’s creating a dedicated revenue stream for state tax coffers—advocates like Chapman say it’s time to correct that.

“It’s easy for folks in the industry to get caught in the movement with all the success we’re having,” he told Marijuana Moment. “But that has largely not changed the majority of the stigmatization that is out there. There is still a lot of work and education to be done.”

Unlike in Denver, where consumption cafes had to be legalized locally via the ballot, “We want very much to get this done in the Legislature,” said Chapman, the coalition’s legislative director.

At the same time, the coalition plans to collect signatures for a voter-initiative campaign.

“Whenever we feel we’re not being taken seriously in the Legislature, we will ramp up,” he said.

Probable arguments in opposition will highlight over-serving, potential links between consumption spaces and stoned driving and contentions that marijuana smoke causes damage to lungs and health similar to tobacco.

Training cafe servers not to over-serve—as staff at alcohol-serving bars are trained to do—and pointing to studies that do not show a link between marijuana use and lung issues should be sufficient, Chapman said.

“People are already on the roads smoking in parking lots and parks,” he said. “These are the places where we truly believe cause public health concerns.”

Alaska Could Be The First State To Legalize And License Marijuana Lounges

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Push To Legalize Marijuana Consumption Spaces In Oregon Kicks Off

Alaska Could Be The First State To Legalize And License Marijuana Lounges

Alaska Could Be The First State To Legalize And License Marijuana Lounges

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

Teen Marijuana Use Is Down In California Following Legalization, State-Funded Study Shows

Teen Marijuana Use Is Down In California Following Legalization, State-Funded Study Shows

Marijuana use among junior high and high school students is down across all age levels in California, according to the first survey of teen drug consumption conducted in the state since voters legalized recreational cannabis.

Results of the Biennial State California Healthy Kids Survey are consistent with data from other states that have legalized marijuana, where students have also reported declining or flat cannabis use rates following the end of prohibition for adults.

“Lifetime marijuana use was reported by 4%, 17%, and 32% of students by ascending grade, declines of 4 points in 7th [grade] and 6 points in both 9th and 11th [grades],” the survey’s authors found.

“Current use occurred among 2%, 9%, and 17%, down 3 to 4 points, depending on grade.”

The rates of alcohol and other drug use have been on steady downward trends since at least 2011, according to the survey. Recreational legalization after voters’ approval in 2016 didn’t interrupt that decline, nor did the growth of the medical cannabis market in the preceding years.

Steep Cannabis Use Drops Across All Grades

Grade 7 Grade 9 Grade 11
2013-2015 2015-2017 2013-2015 2015-2017 2013-2015 2015-2017
Current marijuana use, past 30 days (%) 5.0 2.3 13.4 9.5 20.1 16.7
Ever used marijuana 7.9 4.2 23.1 17.4 37.9 31.9

California student marijuana use survey results, in percentages.

Teens indicated in the survey that a combination of peer and parental disapproval is discouraging them from using cannabis, with the number of seventh- and ninth-graders who said that they strongly disapproved of peer marijuana smoking increasing most sharply.

Results of the survey include data collected between 2015, before 57 percent of California voters approved Proposition 64, which immediately legalized cannabis for adults 21 and over in November 2016, and 2017.

While commercial medical cannabis sales have been widespread in the state for years, the new study does not take into account any potential effect from legal recreational commerce, which began on January 1 of this year.

“How the recent legalization of marijuana use for adults in California effects the declining trend among youth warrants attention,” the survey’s authors wrote.

“The next biennial survey will be of particular interest to shed light on whether the change in state marijuana laws affect these findings.”

However, the survey seems to provide initial validation for claims from marijuana legalization supporters who say that ending prohibition does not encourage more young people to consume cannabis.

In a statement, Tim Torlakson, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction, said that educators “must continue to be diligent in our efforts to prevent, or at least limit, marijuana use in light of the potential effect of the legalization for adults as a result of the passage of Proposition 64 two years ago.”

The survey was conducted by the California Department of Education and the California Department of Health Care Services.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Teen Marijuana Use Is Down In California Following Legalization, State-Funded Study Shows

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