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Alaska Regulators to Resume On-Site Marijuana Use Debate

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Alaska lawmakers have teetered back and forth on the topic of on-site consumption for some time. The discussions are again with hopes of moving forward.

In 2015, the Alaska Marijuana Control Board started its preparations for on-site consumption after recreational marijuana was approved by voters, according to U.S. News & World Report. The board got as far as putting a few regulations with references together. Rather than setting up an Amsterdam-style cafe, the proposal would allow for retail stores to have separate consumption areas.

Many recreational marijuana business owners hoped that the board would have this all hashed out and signed before the biggest tourist season starts. Threats from the federal government regarding potential crackdowns is what stopped progress before. One month after stopping the conversation, it’s back in the mix after a vote.

Loren Jones of Juneau, public health seat for the Alaska Marijuana Control Board, was the only one to submit new proposed rules for on-site consumption by the deadline set by the board. His proposal includes a two-year moratorium on on-site consumption. He doesn’t want Alaska to be the first state to allow it.

Jones said, “I don’t think we need to rush into that.”

State chief medical officer, Jay Butler, is not on-board with on-site consumption.

Butler said, “Even though marijuana is not the same as tobacco smoke, there’s a lot that we don’t know about it. Clinically, we see signs of it being a respiratory irritant in people who smoke frequently.”

Two additional proposals were submitted, but after the deadline. It hasn’t been said whether they will be considered, but Jones’ proposal will take precedence when it comes to hearings and votes since it was on time. A public comment period will be determined following board approval for the proposal to move forward.