Board advances in-store pot use

The Alaska Marijuana Control Board has voted unanimously to ask the public to comment on draft regulations allowing recreational marijuana users to enjoy pot products inside retail stores.

The regulations are the first of their kind in the United States and are a rough equivalent to the nation’s first legal pot cafes.

Once formalized, public comment will open in the coming weeks. After the public comment period expires, the board will consider the regulations again before approving or disavowing them for good.

“I think this is probably one of the provisions that is going to give elected officials the most angst, and I don’t want to disappoint them by doing it wrong,” said board chairman Bruce Schulte before joining other members in approving the draft.

When Alaska voters approved recreational marijuana use in 2014 with Ballot Measure 2, the state began a two-year process leading to the opening of the state’s first retail marijuana stores.

The first commercial marijuana cultivation businesses will receive their licenses in the second week of June; the first retail businesses will begin selling marijuana in the second week of September.

As the board began drafting regulations to define the new industry, prospective business owners approached the board and said they were concerned that tourists and renters might not have a place to use legal marijuana.

The state permits the sale of marijuana, but consumption “in public” is prohibited, and the state has adopted an expansive definition of “public” that leaves few legal spaces outside one’s home. In response to concerns about selling people marijuana they have no place to use, the board voted 3-2 in November to carve a narrow exemption into the definition of “public.”

That exemption allows retail stores to apply for an “onsite consumption endorsement” to their licenses. If a store receives that endorsement, it can set aside an area for people to consume marijuana.

Under the draft regulations sent for public comment, the area must be enclosed, with a separate door, a ventilation system and oversight by staff.

On-site consumers will be limited to a limited “menu” and held to a much tighter purchase limit than regular retail customers in order to prevent stoned driving and other problems with overconsumption.

The on-site consumption area will also be restricted in ways similar to alcohol bars. Stores will not be able to give away marijuana, serve intoxicated customers, give “happy hour” discounts or discounts for special customers.

In Juneau, the consumption area will also be subject to the City and Borough of Juneau’s strict antismoking rules, which prohibit indoor tobacco and marijuana use, even if an area is set aside for that use. Without a change to the CBJ’s regulations, a consumption area in Juneau would be open to edible and drinkable marijuana products only.

When the board voted to create the on-site endorsement in November, board member Loren Jones, also a City and Borough of Juneau assemblyman, voted against the idea.

On Wednesday, he joined all other board members in voting to send the regulations to public comment.

He said by phone that his views on the endorsement haven’t changed, but he thinks it’s time for the public to have its say.

“I’m hoping there will be enough comments related to the definition of public” to change the board’s mind, he said.

In other business Wednesday, the board approved several companies planning to offer marijuana-handling training required of all marijuana licensees and store employees.

As of April 20, the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office has received 277 applications for marijuana licenses. One hundred and sixty-three of those are for cultivation facilities; three are for testing facilities. Retail and marijuana product manufacturing licenses (bakeries and the like) make up the remainder.

The board is scheduled to meet next on June 9 to approve the first licenses for marijuana cultivation and testing businesses.

• Contact reporter James Brooks at

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 6

Here’s what to expect this week.

Disney Williams (right) orders coffee from Lorelai Bingham from the Flying Squirrel coffee stand at Juneau International Airport on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
New coffee stand at airport stirs up heated dispute about having proper authorization to operate

Fans of Flying Squirrel Espresso praise location, hours; officials say FAA violations could be costly.

Nano Brooks and Emily Mesch file for candidacy on Friday at the City and Borough of Juneau Municipal Clerk’s office in City Hall. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
City and Borough of Juneau regular municipal election candidate filing period opens

So far, most vie for Assembly District 2 seat — mayor, Board of Education, and District 1 also open.

Killah Priest performs at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center in December 2019. (Photo courtesy of Lance Mitchell)
Killah Priest sets new record with Alaskan artists on ‘Killah Borealis’

Wu-Tang Clan rapper seeks to lift Alaskan voices and culture in his return performance to Juneau

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, July 10, 2024

For Wednesday, July 10 Attempt to Serve At 10:06 a.m. on Wednesday,… Continue reading

Commercial fishing boats are lined up at the dock at Seward’s harbor on June 22. Federal grants totaling a bit over $5 million have been awarded to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to help Alaskans sell more fish to more diverse groups of consumers. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Federal grants to state agency aim to expand markets for Alaska seafood

More than $5M to help ASMI comes after Gov. Dunleavy vetoed $10M for agency.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds up the omnibus crime bill, House Bill 66, after signing it at a ceremony Thursday at the Department of Public Safety’s aircraft hangar at Lake Hood in Anchorage. At his side are Sandy Snodgrass, whose 22-year-old son died in 2021 from a fentanyl overdose, and Angela Harris, who was stabbed in 2022 by a mentally disturbed man at the public library in Anchorage and injured so badly that she now uses a wheelchair. Snodgrass and Harris advocated for provisions in the bill.Behind them are legislators, law enforcement officers and others. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Goals for new Alaska crime law range from harsher penalties for drug dealers to reducing recidivism

Some celebrate major progress on state’s thorniest crime issues while others criticize the methods.

Juneau Board of Education President Deedie Sorensen (left) and Vice President Emil Mackey, holding his son Emil Mackey IV, listen to discussion about next year’s budget for the school district during a meeting March 14 at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé. Recall votes for both board members were certified this week for the Oct. 1 municipal election ballot. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Petitions to recall two Juneau school board leaders get enough signatures for Oct. 1 election ballot

President Deedie Sorensen, Vice President Emil Mackey targeted due to school district’s budget crisis.

Most Read