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

Editor, Valdez Star 

Marijuana onsite consumption rules up for public comment in Alaska

Control board will take public input until October 27 before debating regulations


August 30, 2017

Regulators are giving Alaskans a say on the latest proposal that - if passed - will allow retail marijuana outlets to provide customers with an area to consume legal marijuana products on site.

State regulators with the Marijuana Control Board announced last week that the comment period will be open through Oct. 27.

The marijuana board has changed its position on allowing onsite consumption of cannabis products at retail outlets since it began drafting regulations in 2014.

The draft rules give local governments the right to protest a store's application for an onsite consumption license.

The draft regulations under consideration are available online at the website for the Marijuana Control Board.

Comments can be emailed to the board using this address:

The Valdez City Council, which acts as the local regulatory body for marijuana-based businesses, left open provisions for onsite consumption when it passed the local zoning ordinances for cannabis retailers, growers and testing facilities.

Further north, voters in the city of Fairbanks and voters in the Fairbanks North Star Borough are still struggling with the legality of sales in the city and borough.

Two initiatives will appear Oct. 3 on the municipal election ballot according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Proposition A will outlaw commercial marijuana businesses in the city, while Proposition 1 will outlaw them in the borough.

Last May, Valdez voters unanimously shut down its own Proposition 1, which would have shuttered all legally licensed marijuana businesses, including retail and growing operations, within the city limits - and beyond.

There were 1009 votes against the measure in Valdez, and only 316 votes supporting the ban.

While more states are moving forward with legalizing cannabis, the Justice Dept. under the Trump administration has indicated it may end the policy enacted during the Obama administration that allowed states to legalize and regulate marijuana without Federal interference.

Last week, the Associated Press reported that Alaska Gov. Bill Walker sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking the Department of Justice to maintain the Obama administration's more hands-off enforcement approach to states that have legalized the drug that is still banned at the federal level.

Valdez Star file photo

Last May, Valdez voters rejected a ballot measure that would have outlawed retail marijuana and commercial growing facilities within the city limits.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington said the attorney general made claims about the situation in Washington (which legalized commercial marijuana in 2012) that are "outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information."

In total, eight states have moved to legalize commercial marijuana since 2012.

"Generally this means a policy that supports a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers can buy marijuana for personal use from a safe legal source," says NORML, the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, an advocacy group that has worked towards marijuana legalization for several decades.

Colorado and Washington state voters led the charge in legalizing cannabis; other states, including Alaska, followed suit. These now include: California, Washington DC, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and Oregon.


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