In this Feb. 20, 2015 photo, Alaska Cannabis Club CEO Charlo Greene prepares to roll a joint at the medical marijuana dispensary in Anchorage, Alaska. (Mark Thiessen | Associated Press File)

In this Feb. 20, 2015 photo, Alaska Cannabis Club CEO Charlo Greene prepares to roll a joint at the medical marijuana dispensary in Anchorage, Alaska. (Mark Thiessen | Associated Press File)

Alaska moves closer to onsite marijuana use in certain areas

Department of Law finds no legal problems with rules approved by regulators

Alaska has moved closer to becoming the first in the country with statewide rules allowing onsite use of marijuana at specially authorized stores.

A memo from the state’s Department of Law said it found no legal problems with the rules approved by marijuana regulators in December that will govern where and how onsite consumption could take place. The finding is a standard hurdle in the rule-making process.

The rules were recently sent to Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer for his signature and are expected to take effect 30 days after they’re signed. A Department of Law spokeswoman confirmed that Meyer’s signature is a formality.

[Controversial marijuana board appointee meets resistance in confirmation hearing]

Interested retail businesses 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.

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 there won’t be a sudden proliferation of smoking sites.

“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.

[Dunleavy spokesman: Governor has no intention to roll back legal marijuana]

“I don’t want to have to get this pulled back and revisited,” Carrigan added.

Eric Riemer is a co-owner of The Stoney Moose retail marijuana shop in Ketchikan, a community that is a summer tourist destination in southeast Alaska. He said his business, which is not in a stand-alone building, has had to revise its initial vision of an upstairs consumption area as the regulations took shape and is now looking at some type of outdoor area.

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.

Riemer wants to create an outdoor smoking area but set it up so that people walking by won’t be able to smell it. He envisions a contained and ventilated space.

“Our whole plan is to be courteous to the people that are around us, to the visitors to town, be respectful of the area and our neighbors,” he said. “And the way to do that is to just design the heck out of this place so that it’s absolutely as close to minimal impact as possible on our neighborhood.”


• This is an Associated Press report by Becky Bohrer.


More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of April 15

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Students leave the Marie Drake Building, which houses local alternative education offerings including the HomeBRIDGE correspondence program, on April 4. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Educators and lawmakers trying to determine impacts, next steps of ruling denying state funds for homeschoolers

“Everybody wants to make sure there’s a way to continue supporting homeschool families,” Kiehl says.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, April 14, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

TJ Beers holds a sign to advocate for the rights of people experiencing homelessness outside the state Capitol on April 9. Beers was homeless for four years and in three states. “I don’t know how I survived,” he said. (Claire Stremple/Alaska Beacon)
Lawmakers weigh whether to reduce or acknowledge rights of growing Alaska homeless population

As cities try to house people, Dunleavy’s protest bill would further criminalize them, advocates say.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, April 13, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, April 12, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, April 11, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The sky and mountains are reflected in the water on April 5, 2012, at the Kootznoowoo Wilderness in the Tongass National Forest’s Admiralty Island National Monument. Conservation organizations bought some private land and transferred it to the U.S. Forest Service, resulting in an incremental expansion of the Kootznoowoo Wilderness and protection of habitat important to salmon and wildlife. (Photo by Don MacDougall/U.S. Forest Service)
Conservation groups’ purchase preserves additional land in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

A designated wilderness area in Southeast Alaska’s Tongass National Forest, the largest… Continue reading

A welcome sign is shown Sept. 22, 2021, in Tok. President Joe Biden won Alaska’s nominating contest on Saturday. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)
Biden wins more delegates in Alaska and Wyoming as he heads toward Democratic nomination

President Joe Biden nudged further ahead in the Democratic nomination for reelection… Continue reading

Most Read