Last month, the Alaska Marijuana Control Board – the committee that oversees creating regulations for the new cannabis industry – decided to abandon their plan to allow on-site consumption of cannabis in dispensaries that obtained an additional endorsement for such activities. Dispensaries would have been required to have a separate room for consumption where customers could purchase items from a specific “menu” of sorts, and everything would have to be consumed there or left behind. Customers could still make purchases upon leaving the store as well.
Unfortunately, some of the latest announcements from the Trump Administration and the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General were concerns for some members of the board, and they didn’t want to do anything to make the state a bigger target by allowing something that no other state has allowed so far. The vote against any further work on that specific project meant a lot of wasted time, planning and funding for a handful of dispensaries who had already received an endorsement to allow consumption on-site once regulations were firmly in place
“Well, I think last month, had a regulation written in a certain way that died,” Mlynarik told The Associated Press. “So now the project is out again, and we don’t know what form that’s going to take yet.”
This week, the Alaska Marijuana Control Board revisited the subject, voting on whether or not those dispensaries who already received endorsements should be allowed to move forward with a consumption area, and whether or not to continue the discussion with rewritten regulations – nearly starting from scratch. The 4-1 vote determined that those with endorsements would be able to operate as usual, but will not be allowed to include on-site consumption until further notice. They also decided that they would continue the discussion, and work on new regulations (some of which may stay the same, but a lot is likely to change).
“Even though those licenses were approved, it was with the exception that that consumption area was not going to be operating because there are no regulations yet for the consumption area,” Mlynarik explained.
The new draft of regulations could be ready as soon as April, and then they would be opened up once again for public comment before the Marijuana Control Board decides whether or not to move forward and make on-site consumption legal in licensed dispensaries. In the event that this sort of legislation is approved, depending on how long it takes, the state could be the first to allow public and social cannabis use after legalization – which is a big topic of discussion in many states that allow legal cannabis (both Colorado and Nevada are currently looking at legislation to allow social use). This is the next logical step after legalization, giving cannabis users the same rights as those who drink alcohol, not forcing tourists and residents into breaking the law just to consume legal cannabis.