MCB takes small bite out of pot edibles

Prepare for a milder high.

The Alaska Marijuana Control board on Wednesday adopted standards that set a 5-milligram THC limit per serving for edible marijuana products.

THC is the most common psychoactive agent in marijuana, and 5 milligrams is half the amount set as the maximum per-serving limit in the three other states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Cindy Franklin, executive director of the marijuana control board, said during the meeting that the lower limit is “an attempt to provide assurances to the public and the municipalities that we’re going to have a safe approach to edible products and one that makes sense.”

Consumers with a higher tolerance will simply have to eat more. While the limit for a single serving — think of a piece of chocolate from an entire bar — is 5 milligrams, the limit for a complete package is 50 milligrams.

An attempt to devise a serving size for marijuana concentrates was abandoned Wednesday, the first day of a two-day meeting in Anchorage.

This two-day gathering is part of the months-long process by the control board to create a slate of regulations that will govern the state’s retail marijuana industry. No public testimony was allowed as the five-person board considered regulations one by one.

Further meetings are planned, and Wednesday’s vote will not be made final until Nov. 20, when the board gathers in Anchorage four days before the deadline set by the voter initiative that legalized marijuana.

A two-day meeting is scheduled Oct. 15-16 to hear oral testimony on the regulations. Lengthy written testimony has already been accepted.

Wednesday’s proceedings moved by consensus, if slowly, with one notable exception.

By a 3-2 vote, the board narrowly upheld a regulation that prohibits marijuana growers and sellers from also holding the permit for a marijuana testing facility.

Testing ensures marijuana hasn’t been contaminated by bacteria and is of the strength indicated on its packaging.

As Franklin explained to the board, eliminating the prohibition would destroy the notion of independent testing labs. A grower would be able to test his or her own marijuana with no independent oversight.

Board member Brandon Emmett suggested the amendment that would have allowed growers to also own testing licenses. He was supported by board chairman Bruce Schulte but opposed by the other three board members.

City and Borough of Juneau assemblyman Loren Jones, a member of the board in opposition, said he had a one-word response to the idea.

“Just one word: Volkswagen,” he said, referring to the recent emissions testing scandal affecting the German automaker.

• Contact assistant editor James Brooks at 523.2258 or at james.k.brooks@morris.com.

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