Alaska marijuana stores are seeking clarification about whether customers can consume in designated areas. In this Dec. 2012 file photo, Rachel Schaefer, of Denver, smokes marijuana on the official opening night of Club 64, a marijuana-specific social club. (Denver Post file)

Still a chance for onsite use at Alaska marijuana retail shops

JUNEAU, Alaska — The head of the board that regulates marijuana in Alaska said he expects officials will have to address again at some point the issue of pot users consuming marijuana products in authorized stores after regulators rejected doing so last week.

But Peter Mlynarik, chairman of Alaska’s Marijuana Control Board, said Monday he did not know when the board might take up the matter again.

Mlynarik sided with two other board members last Thursday in rejecting rules by a 3-2 vote for allowing people to buy marijuana in Alaska’s authorized stores and going into separate areas to partake.

Concerns were raised during the board’s debate over how President Donald Trump’s administration might view marijuana, which remains illegal federally but has been legalized for recreational use in eight states including Alaska plus the District of Columbia.

A day after the board vote, the state’s Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office said the issue wasn’t dead.

The office said in a statement that an existing marijuana regulation — which had been overlooked or missed by industry representatives at Thursday’s meeting — allows onsite consumption at licensed retail pot shops if authorized by the board. The office encouraged licensed marijuana retailers interested in having onsite use to submit documents to the board for review.

Sara Chambers, the control office’s acting director, called the existing regulation a “less-specific method” by which regulators are to “look at applications and determine whether to approve or deny them.”

Mlynarik cited the existing regulation for why he expects the issue to come up again sometime.

Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel with the Marijuana Policy Project, which supports legal marijuana sales and use, said a lack of clear guidance on what the board might expect from businesses is problematic. He encouraged marijuana businesses to work with regulators to try to find a solution.