The Marijuana Control Board is now looking at a narrower plan that would allow people to buy Alaska marijuana products in an authorized store and go into a separate area to partake. Pictured: Budtender Kate Panetta of Natural Remedies, left, helps a customer at the Denver dispensary in August 2013. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

Alaska tweaks draft rules for use of pot at licensed stores

Alaska is looking into having customers buy products in authorized stores and partake in a separate area, instead of having specific cannabis cafes

JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska marijuana regulators aren’t ready to buy into Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes just yet and are going back to the public for more feedback.

Earlier this month, the Marijuana Control Board considered a draft regulation that would have allowed cannabis shops to sell product for onsite use only, like a bar would sell alcohol. However, after a member raised concerns, the board is now looking at a narrower plan that would allow people to buy marijuana products in an authorized store and go into a separate area to partake. They would be allowed to take resealed unused portions home with them.

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Board member Mark Springer said the initial discussion over onsite use had gone from providing a place for tourists off of cruise ships to buy and use legal marijuana toward allowing for marijuana bars. He said he thought the approach adopted would be more acceptable to the public.

The public will get another chance to weigh in. Under a tentative timeline, the first retail business licenses are expected to be issued in September. The board has begun issuing licenses for testing and growing operations.

The board, meeting in Fairbanks, wrestled with how to move forward with the draft regulations, with the two industry representatives on the panel urging the board to not delay acting.

There was discussion, based on some of the public comments already received, about whether the board has the authority to allow for onsite use at authorized stores because the initiative legalizing recreational marijuana banned consuming marijuana in public. Harriet Dinegar Milks, an assistant attorney general serving as counsel to the board, said she believed the board can define “in public.” She called it a defensible regulation under the law, noting, too, a reference in state law contemplating onsite consumption.

Much of the discussion centered on the board’s vision for allowing people who buy marijuana and marijuana products from authorized stores to consume them at those stores.

In written comments provided to the board, Erika McConnell, Anchorage’s marijuana coordinator, said the concept of a “marijuana bar” would encourage consumption outside of the home, increasing the likelihood of public intoxication and impaired driving. McConnell also suggested greater clarity on other pieces of the proposed regulations.


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