As the licensing process continues in Alaska, the attorney general decided it was time for an official statement regarding the hazy area between legal cannabis lounges and illegal private cannabis clubs. According to Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth, there is quite a clear difference between the two – private cannabis clubs, where people gather to consume cannabis in a private place where they paid a fee, are illegal within the state. On the other hand, cannabis lounges that are within a licensed dispensary are legal and will be licensed along with the dispensaries in the coming months.
“Under Alaska law, a business cannot sell or provide marijuana or allow marijuana to be consumed on the premises unless it is licensed as a retail cannabis store by the Marijuana Control Board,” Lindemuth wrote.
There are already at least four to six private cannabis clubs operating throughout the state – but now law enforcement is being encouraged to shut these places down. Along with enforcing the laws on public consumption more strictly, the attorney general also reminded everyone that giving away cannabis as a “sample” or “gift” to patrons paying for other goods or services could also be deemed an illegal sale of cannabis. It seems that with the opening of the industry coming closer every day she felt it was time to ensure people were not wondering about such grey areas.
Of course, allowing cannabis consumption in retail dispensaries is already a step above other states, who outright do not allow cannabis consumption outside a private residence, and there is still a significant need for these types of establishments. After all, in the eyes of many, the hope in legalizing marijuana is that it is regulated similarly to alcohol – and in most cases all you need to sell alcohol in your store, restaurant or private club is a liquor license.
In Homer, Alaska there is a group of people who were running a private cannabis club who have since been shut down. Lindianne Sarno, a founding member of the Homer cannabis club has said that she would like to go to court and hear arguments on both sides of this issues – which is more open-minded than most who would go in blazing for a verdict in their favor and nothing less.
“When we passed the ballot initiative the title of the initiative was to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol and so we saw ourselves, our club, as really no different from the VFW. They freely assembly, they have a club, it’s a private club, you can’t get into it unless you are a member – but they serve alcohol and we serve cannabis. So in very many ways we are being discriminated against,” said Sarno.
“To me it is a bit of an outrage. I am on the cannabis advisory commission for Homer. I’m doing everything I can to try to help these laws come through in a responsible way. I would like to see it kept out of teenagers’ and children’s hands. I want to prove that this can be done responsibly. And I think that all of the clubs did prove that we can do this responsibly without harming people,” said Clark, another co-founder of the Homer cannabis club.
For now, Alaska will have to deal with only being able to consume cannabis in the lounge areas that will be available in retail dispensaries. Until then, they will have to continue to consume cannabis in private residences – where you can have as many people as you want come over to toke up, as long as you don’t charge anyone for anything.