Letter: Marijuana consumption in stores

I’m dismayed the Marijuana Control Board is considering not one, but several proposals by marijuana lobbyists to allow consumption in retail marijuana stores. (Juneau Empire, April 27, “Board advances in-store pot use.”) This is contrary to the will of the voters.

The initial set of regulations adopted by the board followed the law and prohibited this. But once again the industry is getting its way, and I bet the board is going to reverse itself, yet again.

Over many months, many people, including me, gave the Marijuana Control Board detailed written comments about how to improve, clarify and tighten every set of regulations that was drafted (there have been four separate sets), but the marijuana industry consistently wins out.

For example, I urged the board to prohibit marijuana retailers from selling to persons intoxicated by alcohol (like bars and liquor stores are banned from doing) or to persons intoxicated by drugs. That suggestion was ignored.

I also suggested the board increase the insurance requirement for marijuana retailers above the million-dollar limit set out in the board’s initial draft of regulations. Instead, the board reversed course and deleted any requirement for insurance.

Nearly half of Alaska voters didn’t want marijuana to be legal at all. A bit more than half voted for a ballot initiative that prohibited marijuana from being used in public. The ballot measure was advertised as regulating marijuana similar to alcohol. But on some points the ballot measure treated marijuana treated differently than alcohol — such as prohibiting consumption in public, period.

Now, however, the state marijuana board is going to reverse the vote, and allow public places where any member of the public can light up or eat marijuana brownies before they get in their cars to drive home.

Marijuana supporters for years have had a constitutional right to possess and use marijuana. But that right to privacy was limited. The constitutional protection did not apply in public. So, too, the ballot initiative prohibits consumption in public. That’s what was voted for. That’s what the Marijuana Control Board should stick with.

Dean Guaneli