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

Alaska Marijuana Control Board Reveals Draft Regulations for Public Input

Alaska Marijuana Control Board Reveals Draft Regulations for Public Input

Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board revealed additional proposed regulations at its first meeting in Fairbanks. The new restrictions and guidelines pointedly address cannabis retail operations.

Cynthia Franklin, Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and Marijuana Control Board director, introduced regulations regarding who may apply for and receive marijuana retail licenses and handler permits. Other issues covered are proposed restrictions on advertising, permitted hours of operation and health and safety standards for businesses. The public will be able to review and comment on the proposed regulations.

The most anticipated issue addressed at the meeting was regarding regulations for retail license holders. Under this draft, a person with a felony conviction is not eligible to apply. A person who has been charged for distributed cannabis or facilitated its use illegally during the two year period before the regulations become law is also disqualified. An exception may be made for business owners who have shown good faith in working alongside the board to bring their companies into compliance with emerging laws. Another proposed regulation prohibits the delivery of cannabis products away from licensed properties.

Gov. Bill Walker recently named the five volunteers that now make up the Marijuana Control Board. The appointees represent different sectors of Alaskan interest: public safety, public health, rural Alaska, and the marijuana industry. One additional spot represents the general public. The board is charged with constructing a set of regulations for cannabis-related recreational and commercial enterprises in Alaska.

Brandon Emmett, public member of the Marijuana Control Board, expressed concern about the restrictive nature of some of the regulations. He indicated that he thought parts of the draft would,

“…end the marijuana industry before it starts.”

Franklin was quick to halt further comment. She said,

“Unless you’re talking about changing a word or two, you’re usurping the public’s role in this.”

The board will have until November 24 to form the regulations.

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