Alaska marijuana regulators to consider onsite use tweaks

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JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s first-in-the-nation statewide rules for allowing onsite consumption of marijuana at authorized stores could be tweaked to ease requirements for shops that want to offer places to consume edibles but not permit smoking.

The Marijuana Control Board plans to consider the issue during its meeting starting Wednesday in Anchorage. The five-member board will be short-handed, with one member out of state and one seat vacant.

The board would need to get public comment on proposed changes to the rules. The board also could have staff rework the proposed changes or do nothing. Board chairman Mark Springer said all three of the members expected to attend would have to agree to pass something, though he noted that if a motion were to fail, an issue could be revived later.

New rules specify conditions stores must meet to be authorized for onsite consumption. The rules refer to stores in freestanding buildings, consistent with language in a statewide smoke-free workplace law, and include ventilation requirements.

The proposed changes would allow stores not in freestanding buildings to have onsite consumption of edibles only. Ventilation systems would be required for onsite use areas allowing smoking.

Consumption areas still would need to be separated from the rest of the stores.

Cary Carrigan, executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, said it seems a “foregone conclusion” that the state will continue moving forward with a plan for onsite consumption.

“It’s just kind of more a dynamic of how it takes shape finally,” he said. “I think a lot of people still have a lot of different ideas.”

James Barrett, a co-owner of Rainforest Farms in Juneau, said his business is interested in allowing for onsite use but noted there are hurdles, including finding a model that works.

The business had an idea for onsite consumption that involved marijuana concentrates, but current state rules do not allow for that. In Juneau, local rules prohibit all forms of marijuana consumption in public, including in marijuana retail stores, according to the city attorney.

Barrett said a tourist would probably want to come in and smoke a joint. Juneau gets an influx of cruise ship passengers in the summer.

While the rules allowing for onsite use took effect April 11, interested businesses still must apply, meet requirements and receive approval from the board. The board has not yet considered any onsite use applications.