About 2.5 ounces of dried marijuana in Juneau. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

About 2.5 ounces of dried marijuana in Juneau. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Puff, puff passed: Juneau Assembly OKs onsite pot smoking

If approved by state, local stores can offer the option for outdoor smoking, inside edibles

Consuming marijuana at the stores that sell it will be allowed in Juneau — with a couple of big caveats.

The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly approved Monday an ordinance that would allow outdoor smoking at state-approved sellers and indoor consumption of edibles. The decision followed months of debate about whether onsite smoking could be allowed without causing problems for the city’s secondhand smoke laws.

“If you don’t like marijuana smoke, you should be for this ordinance,” Assembly member Wade Bryson said during the meeting.

He reiterated points he has made in the past that allowing onsite consumption could potentially curb the number of people illegally, publicly consuming marijuana.

[You could soon smoke where you shop]

Being pro-business and keeping marijuana smoke out of public spaces were among the reasons given by Assembly members Maria Gladziszewski, Carole Triem, Alicia Hughes-Skandijs, Rob Edwardson and Michelle Bonnet Hale for supporting the ordinance, which passed by a 6-2 vote.

Assembly member Mary Becker and Mayor Beth Weldon voted against the ordinance.

“I don’t want marijuana used outside or inside,” Becker said. “If I had my way, it’d be nowhere, but I do not have my way.”

Prior to the vote on the ordinance, Weldon proposed an amendment that would only allow outdoor consumption of marijuana via vaping in order to cut down on secondhand smoke in the air. That amendment failed.

Triem said there are places outdoors where cigarettes are allowed to be smoked and marijuana should be regulated the same way.

During public testimony, both people for and against onsite consumption were critical of the ordinance.

Residents such as Kristin Cox and Emily Davis spoke to the harmful impacts of secondhand smoke.

[Talkin’ pot shop: Business owners discuss onsite consumption]

Those connected to the marijuana industry such as Jennifer Canfield, co-owner of marijuana retailer Green Elephant; and Ben Wilcox, co-owner of THC Alaska; criticized the ordinance for not allowing onsite smoking which is allowed under state law.

Ben Wilcox, co-owner of THC Alaska, speaks outside the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Chambers, June 24, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Ben Wilcox, co-owner of THC Alaska, speaks outside the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Chambers, June 24, 2019. (Ben Hohenstatt | Juneau Empire)

Wilcox said he is a lifelong non-driver, but he has to be subjected to exhaust everyday.

“We’re looking for 100 percent safety?” Wilcox asked. “We’re in Alaska. We have crabbing. We have oil.”

Canfield said marijuana retailers are simply trying to give people a space to do what they’re already going to do while keeping smoke out of public places.

Green Elephant may be the only local seller that could make accommodations to allow onsite outdoors smoking after the ordinance goes into effect in 30 days, but Canfield said she does not think that will happen soon.

Jennifer Canfield, co-owner of marijuana retailer Green Elephant, talks on Monday, June 24, 2019, about how the company might turn its backyard into an onsite consumption garden if given permission by the city. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Jennifer Canfield, co-owner of marijuana retailer Green Elephant, talks on Monday, June 24, 2019, about how the company might turn its backyard into an onsite consumption garden if given permission by the city. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

“It’s not going to happen this year,” she said.

However, she said other businesses may attempt to take advantage of allowing onsite indoor edible consumption more quickly.

Assembly members agreed that allowing outdoor onsite smoking at state-approved businesses may just be a first step and other states have show it’s possible to prioritize clean air and allow onsite smoking.

Gladziszewski said California was early to placing restrictions on smoking cigarettes in restaurants and other public spaces but allows onsite, indoors smoking.

“If California can figure it out, Juneau can figure it out, too,” Gladziszewski said.


• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.


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 20

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, July 18, 2024

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

Buttons on display at a campaign event Monday, July 8, 2024, in Juneau, urge supporters to vote against Ballot Measure 2, the repeal of Alaska’s current election system. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Ranked-choice repeal measure awaits signature count after Alaska judge’s ruling

Signatures must be recounted after judge disqualifies almost 3,000 names, citing state law violations.

The offices of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development in Juneau are seen on Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska demographers predict population drop, a switch from prior forecasts

For decades, state officials have forecast major population rises, but those haven’t come to pass.

Neil Steininger, former director of the state Office of Management and Budget, testifies before the House Finance Committee at the Alaska State Capitol in January of 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Neil Steininger, former budget director for Gov. Dunleavy, seeking District 1 Juneau Assembly seat

Downtown resident unopposed so far for open seat; deadline to file for local races is Monday.

A mother bear and a cub try to get into a trash can on a downtown street on July 2, 2024. Two male bears were euthanized in a different part of downtown Juneau on Wednesday because they were acting aggressively near garbage cans, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Two black bears in downtown Juneau euthanized due to aggressive behavior around people

Exposed garbage, people insistent on approaching bears contribute to situation, official says

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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

Cars arrive at Juneau International Airport on Thursday, July 11, 2024. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau seems to have avoided major disruptions following global technology-related outage

911 centers, hospitals, airport, and public safety and emergency management agencies are operating.

People take photos of local dignitaries during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Teal Street Center on Thursday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Teal Street Center celebrates with ribbon-cutting a year after social agencies begin providing services

Nine organizations providing legal, disability, counseling and other help open under one roof.

Most Read