Lawmakers are making headway in setting regulations for the retail marijuana industry in Alaska. One of the largest concerns has been locations of marijuana businesses. Regulations regarding the distance of marijuana businesses to schools, churches and parks/recreation areas have flip-flopped between lawmakers since an official vote legalizing recreational marijuana.
New regulations must be put in place to ensure that the industry can operate under a multitude of different circumstances. The industry itself requires locations for retail marijuana stores, cultivation facilities and testing facilities. Land is limited in the Anchorage area and zoning is a major concern according to Alaska Commons.
Controversy arose over the distance between marijuana businesses and schools, playgrounds, public areas and recreation centers. Assembly member Patrick Flynn proposed an acceptable separation distance of 500 feet.
He stated his reasoning for this distance by saying, “Basically there’s just limited land available in the Anchorage bowl. This would align the municipal standard with the state standard in an effort to at least provide some opportunity for some businesses to open.”
This amendment passed by a 6 – 5 margin. Following this, Amy Demboski, took the floor and pushed for larger distances.
Demboski’s separation regulations included:
- 500 feet from arcades like Chuck E. Cheese
- 500 feet from homeless shelters
- 2,000 feet from establishments in Eagle River
- 1,000 feet from schools, parks and recreation centers
- Additional 500 foot buffer from residential zones in Eagle River
Several of Demboski’s amendments passed, but the 500-foot buffer between marijuana businesses and arcades caused a heated debate amongst lawmakers. The measure did pass by a vote of 10 – 1.
Demboski argued her reasoning by saying, “The reason I brought this forward is I was thinking about Chuck E. Cheese. They’re places that attract children. I think it’s responsible to say a hundred feet is a little close.”
The committee has until February 24, 2016 to have additional regulations put in place. Further discussion regarding opening marijuana cafes and having a legal location for tourists to partake in recreational marijuana use are still needed.