Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board voted 3-2 in favor of legalizing the use of cannabis on the premises of pot shops on Friday becoming the first state in the country to do so. It marks a significant step forward in the recreational cannabis world since Colorado, Washington and Oregon currently do not allow cannabis use ‘in public’.
The caveat, though, is Alaska currently has no pot shops open yet despite officially becoming legal earlier this year. But, when the pot shops do open in 2016 as projected, Alaskans will be able to buy their cannabis and smoke it on-site too.
On-site consumption in pot shops throughout the other three states recreational use is legal in has been a hot topic of discussion as to what classifies as ‘public’ or not. With the ruling in Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon may soon follow suit.
Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project, applauded Alaska for its progression.
“This would put, I think, Alaska in the forefront of this issue,” Lindsey said.
The vote came after the initial law legalizing recreational use in Alaska seemed to be on pace to restrict usage pretty heavily, including banning it at private events such as weddings and office parties. Initially, the board didn’t think it had the authority to create a license of this sorts, but upon further review, realized otherwise and held the vote.
It’s a necessary step for the state attracting tourists for the appeal of cannabis consumption in pot shops when they visit. Cynthia Franklin, the board’s director, expects more regulations to be put in place to detail exactly what will be allowed within the pot shops.
At the same time as the vote allowing cannabis consumption in pot shops, the board also struck down a proposition to ban cannabis clubs because while they have no authority to regulate the clubs, they also don’t have the authority to prohibit them.
Pot shops across Alaska are anticipated to open in the middle of 2016. The board is set to begin accepting business applications in February and start awarding them in May. It’s only a matter of months now before Alaskans can enjoy their cannabis immediately after buying it.