Alaska marijuana regulators considered a draft regulation that would have allowed cannabis shops to sell product for onsite use, like a bar sells drinks, but after one member raised “concerns,” the Marijuana Control Board is now looking at a narrower plan that would let people buy pot products in an authorized store, then go to a separate area to use it.
Customers would be allowed to take re-sealed unused portions of pot home with them, reports Becky Bohrer at The Associated Press.
Board member Mark Springer said the discussion over onsite use had started with providing a place for tourists off cruise ships to buy and use legal marijuana, and evolved to allowing marijuana bars. Springer said he thought that approach would be more acceptable to the public.
The first retail business licenses are expected to be issued in September; the board has already started issuing licenses for growing and testing facilities.The board, which met in Fairbanks, struggled with the regulations, with both cannabis industry representatives on the panel urging the board to act without delay.
Some wondered whether the board even has the authority to allow for onsite consumption at marijuana stores, because the initiative legalizing recreational cannabis also banned public consumption. Harriet Dinegar Milks, an assistant attorney general serving as counsel to the board, said she believes the board has the power to define “in public.” She called it a defensible regulation under the law, noting a reference in state law contemplating onsite consumption.
In written comments provided to the board, Anchorage marijuana coordinator Erika McConnell said “marijuana bars” would encourage consumption outside the home. McConnell claimed that would increase the likelihood of “public intoxication” and “impaired driving.” (Many scientific studies have shown experienced cannabis users are mostly are effectively unimpaired while under the influence.)
“There’s no place, right now, where you could publicly consume marijuana,” said Cynthia Franklin, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office.