Alaska board to weigh rules for pot consumption at stores

JUNEAU — Alaska will soon become the first state in the nation to allow customers to smoke pot and snarf marijuana edibles at authorized retail stores.

But rules governing this are still being hammered out, with state regulators set to consider regulations Wednesday in Anchorage.

But don’t get too excited yet, especially if you’re planning to visit Alaska this summer as a tourist.

The state hasn’t issued any business licenses yet, and the first store isn’t expected to open until autumn — after the cruise ship season.

Among the items regulators will consider Wednesday will be deciding how to separate smoking area in stores from the sales side. And then there’s the question of what happens to the pot you buy to smoke or eat on the premises but don’t finish. Whatever is decided has to go out for public comment.

Marijuana Control Board Bruce Schulte said he expects some discussion Wednesday about the timeline for approval of applications. He said concerns have been raised about the schedule.

The board began accepting applications in February. A tentative timeline has suggested the first licenses for cultivation and testing could be approved in June, with the first retail and product manufacturing facility licenses approved later in the year.

State lawmakers last week approved legislation allowing for national criminal history checks for license applicants. That bill will go to Gov. Bill Walker for consideration. Cynthia Franklin, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, said the impact of waiting for that language has been “very minimal to none” because few applications have gotten to that point.

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