The future of onsite marijuana consumption in Juneau is hazy, but it could be getting clearer.
The City and Borough of Juneau Committee of the Whole voted Monday evening to explore the possibility of changing city ordinance to allow eating edibles and smoking marijuana at authorized locations.
“I want to pursue it, I want to analyze it, I want to see if it’s viable,” said Deputy Mayor Maria Gladziszewski. “I want to give people who come here on ships a legal place to do what’s legal.”
The exploration comes in the wake of the state’s decision to allow onsite consumption at marijuana distributors that 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.
The committee’s decision to explore allowing onsite use of edibles and smoking of marijuana was made via two separate votes. The edible vote passed 7-2 with Assembly members Mary Becker and Loren Jones voting against the idea.
The smoking vote was closer — 5-4. Becker and Jones also voted against that, and they were joined by Mayor Beth Weldon and Assembly member Michelle Bonnet Hale. Assembly members Carole Triem, Rob Edwardson, Wade Bryson, Alicia Hughes-Skandijs and Gladziszewski voted in favor of it.
“We’ll be talking about those again,” Gladziszewski said.
There was much discussion already about the possibility of both onsite consumption of edibles and smoking marijuana.
Jones said no one is going to want to sit in an approved space and wait an hour or two for edibles to kick in, and Becker said she was not in favor of breaking the federal prohibition on marijuana in general.
“I’m going to vote no on the edibles, and if the smoking comes up, I will vote so adamantly no the whole city will hear me,” Becker said.
Jones also said no one is going to get busted for eating an edible candy in public, so changing the ordinance seems unnecessary.
Triem and Alicia Hughes-Skandijs each said marijuana consumption should be treated the same as alcohol consumption since both intoxicants are equally legal in Alaska. That logic was applied to both smoking marijuana and use of edibles.
Assembly members who opposed exploring onsite marijuana smoking said smoking indoors would be a violation of the city’s clean air ordinance.
Bryson said allowing onsite smoking may make the air quality better downtown and be good business.
“There are literally hundreds of thousands of people that are coming, and if we give them a place to legally purchase the marijuana and smoke the marijuana, we’re creating another industry,” Bryson said. “We’re going to create a better atmosphere in our downtown district. If everyone is smoking marijuana on the streets, which is the case now, it’s not very inviting to families.”