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

Heather Best (in water), a USGS hydrologist, prepares to toss a road-grader blade with a river-measuring device attached into the Yukon River near Eagle, Alaska. USGS hydrologic technician Liz Richards watches for icebergs. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: Wading into the icy Yukon River for science

EAGLE, ALASKA — Snow geese flew in a ragged V overhead, rasping… Continue reading

Public defender Nicolas Ambrose gestures during a trial centered around a 2019 stabbing May 19, 2022. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)
Prosecution reconstructs events leading to fatal stabbing

Jurors watched multiple angles of the events leading and following the stabbing.

A sign marks the location of the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Tourist dies near Mendenhall Glacier

The death is not considered suspicious.

Zuill Bailey performs a cello concert during a music cruise in Auke Bay on Saturday afternoon. (Courtesy Photo)
All that jazz returns to Juneau

Another ‘Classics’ in the books.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Friday, May 20, 2022

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

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, May 19, 2022

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

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 18, 2022

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

Teaser
Judge orders board adopt interim redistricting map

The decision comes in a second round of redistricting challenges.

Smoke and steam rise from a coal processing plant in Hejin in central China’s Shanxi Province on Nov. 28, 2019. A study released on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, blames pollution of all types for 9 million deaths a year globally, with the death toll attributed to dirty air from cars, trucks and industry rising 55% since 2000. (AP Photo / Sam McNeil File)
Study finds global pollution kills 9 million people a year, study finds

Overall pollution deaths in 2019 were about the same as 2015, according to the study.

Most Read