Alaska is now the first in the country with statewide rules allowing onsite use of marijuana at specially authorized stores.
On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer signed the regulations that were approved by marijuana regulators in December. Last week the Department of Law found no legal problems with the rules.
The rules go into effect April 11, at which point interested retail businesses can start applying for onsite use.
Marijuana distributors will have to apply for a special onsite use endorsement and devise plans that meet security, ventilation and other standards and pass muster with the Marijuana Control Board. Under the rules, local governments can protest onsite consumption endorsements and use an ordinance or a vote of the people to prohibit onsite use or aspects of it, such as smoking.
The Marijuana Control Board considered these regulations for two years and 11 public meetings, according to a memorandum from the Department of Law.
Some in the industry say it’s possible the first onsite use areas are approved by this summer. But Cary Carrigan, executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, said in an interview with the Associated Press there won’t be a sudden proliferation of smoking sites.
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“This is something that’s not happening anywhere else in the U.S. yet. As we start to develop this, people are really looking at us, so I know that everybody wants to get it right,” he said of retail marijuana shop owners and state regulators.
The rules contemplate onsite use areas that are separated from the retail shop by walls and a secure door, or outdoors. They also say shops that allow for onsite use are to be freestanding, keeping with the language of a statewide smoke-free workplace law.
State marijuana regulators have left open for discussion whether cannabis shops that want to offer onsite consumption of edibles but not allow smoking need to be in freestanding buildings. Marijuana Control Board Chairman Mark Springer said he expects revisions to provide more clarity as regulators and the industry continue navigating the issue.
California permits marijuana smoking at marijuana retailers with specially designed lounges. But it also allows cities to ban those kinds of shops. San Francisco is one of the only cities that has embraced Amsterdam-like smoking lounges so far. The city was among the first in the state to allow for what basically amounts to a cigar bar for cannabis, according to an ABC7 report. Specially designed vents are required to keep the air clean and circulating.
• Contact reporter Mollie Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 523-2228. The Associated Press contributed to this report.