The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

Editor, Valdez Star 

Marijuana meeting sheds light on Alaska's new regulations

Local control can axe some provisions on what is allowable for legal sales


Legal sales of marijuana is on the horizon and state regulators are on the road to give the public firsthand information on what it will look like.

Cynthia Franklin, the executive director of Alaska's Marijuana Control Board, held a meeting for the public at large Friday to give the attendees solid information on what will be allowable and how local control can put restrictions on sales.

"The marijuana train has left the station," she said to crowd assembled at the Civic Center theater. "There is no putting this thing back in the bottle."

Municipalities cannot ban personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults over be age of 21, but it can outright ban all marijuana sales.

"Local governments were given two prerogatives," she said. "Pretty big ones."

Municipalities are given free reign to regulate where sales, growing and testing can occur.

"Your local government gets to decide by zoning laws," she said.

Under current state regulations passed by the board last November, there are no statewide regulations governing how many licenses can be granted in the municipality.

Municipalities can enact stricter rules than are allowed by state regulation but cannot ease restrictions.

Alaska is the first state that will allow product sampling at some retail marijuana stores.

Marijuana retailers will be required to obtain a "consumption endorsement" on licenses before allowing pot to be consumed on the premises.

"Nobody is consuming on premises without board approval," she said, noting that the state board is still forming regulations in that area.

Franklin said marijuana clubs are not permissible under current regulations.

"There are no rules because they are illegal," Franklin said.

Franklin said Alaska's marijuana board members and staff have visited Colorado and Washington marijuana stores and grow operations to see what is working and what is not in those states, which legalized marijuana a few years ago.

Franklin also talked about edible marijuana products. Edibles will be legal in Alaska but the production will be heavily regulated.

The Alaska board has decided that a standard serving size for an edible product can contain no more than 5 milligrams of THC.

Edible marijuana in Alaska cannot mimic what Franklin called a "familiar" product. Retailers are also prohibited from adulterating off-the-shelf products such as candy.

In other words, retailers cannot put marijuana or THC on name brand candies or other like-products; products that they produce and sell cannot look like well-known candy or other name brand items.

Regulations also prohibit adulterated products that would be appealing to children.

The Valdez City Council is the governing body for marijuana regulation in the city limits.

It is still illegal to buy and sell marijuana in Alaska because the marijuana board has not yet issued any licenses.

The board is slated to begin accepting applications this February, with the initial industry licenses expected to be awarded in May.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Home marijuana growers in Alaska are allowed to grow their own supply, but are only allowed six plants, and only three can be in bud at any given time.

Municipalities that want to regulate marijuana sales within their boundaries must have local rules in place before the application process begins.

While marijuana sales in Alaska will be illegal until the board issues licenses, it is legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal consumption.

Franklin said Alaska has opted to not distinguish between recreational and medicinal marijuana.

"We do not have any medical marijuana stores," she said, despite the fact that licensed medical marijuana has been legal in Alaska for a number of years, and Alaska Supreme Court rulings have allowed adults to possess marijuana legally since 1975.

"We only have marijuana," she said.


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