Whether people will be able to smoke marijuana at some of the Juneau stores that sell it is still undecided.
The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly introduced an ordinance Monday that would allow onsite consumption, but it was not discussed, and it will be explored more by the Committee of the Whole at a July 8 meeting.
Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove asked that the ordinance, which would also allow onsite consumption of edibles, be introduced and scheduled for a public hearing July 22 instead of referred to the committee, but Assembly member Loren Jones objected.
“I think we’ve had significant discussion at the Committee of the Whole in relation to smoking and what that implications might be for our smoking ordinance because of other private clubs and tobacco clubs, and I don’t think we have worked that out yet,” Jones said. “I don’t think we want to work that out at the public hearing.”
The subject was previously discussed at April 8 and June 10 committee meetings.
Deputy Mayor Maria Gladziszewski, who filled in for absent Mayor Beth Weldon, asked if there were any objections to referring it to the Committee of the Whole for its July 8 meeting and then to the Assembly.
There were none.
Since there was not a public hearing for the ordinance, there was not public comment for it, but some onsite consumption proponents were present in case they were able to talk and to see what the Assembly would decide to do.
Lacy Wilcox, Alaska Marijuana Industry Association member and marijuana lobbyist; Ben Wilcox, co-owner of THC Alaska; and Jennifer Canfield, co-owner of marijuana retailer Green Elephant; said in an interview they support onsite consumption as both people working in the industry and residents of Juneau.
Canfield said at some point onsite consumption of edibles may be a viable business model, but at this point onsite smoking is the decision that would be a boon for Juneau business owners.
Ben Wilcox said marijuana should be regulated more like alcoholic beverages — that means creating spaces where it is legal to consume the intoxicant but also regulating marijuana smoke different from cigarette smoke.
“We have wine licenses and liquor licenses,” he said. “You can get a beer and wine license real easy for a nice little thing on the sidewalk, but a liquor license is going to cost a little bit more money and take a little bit more time, because we realize there’s more damage, and more liability.”
He and Canfield said the state has already created stringent restrictions for onsite consumption that address some concerns raised by Assembly members at past meetings.
State regulations include stipulations that the smoking area be separate from the rest of the store by either a separate ventilation system and secure door or by being outdoors. There are also limits on how much marijuana can be sold to a person in one day — edible products not to exceed 10 milligrams of THC and bud or flower not to exceed one gram. Concentrates including wax, shatter and vape cartridges are not allowed.
The marijuana professionals said the current system essentially ensures people will consume marijuana in public and bring scents and litter that people don’t want in the streets.
“The truth of the matter as a retailer is we sell a lot of joints,” Canfield said. “We sell a lot of joints, people smoke a lot of joints, where are they smoking them?”
“People are doing it,” she added. “It’s not a question of are we going to allow, they’re already doing it. Put it somewhere where it’s not offensive.”
• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt.