Anchorage Assembly gives in-store edible cannabis consumption the green light

Published: Jun. 19, 2019 at 8:01 PM AKDT
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The on-site consumption of edible marijuana at retail shops in Anchorage is now legal.

Assembly member Christopher Constant calls it a step forward and local members of the cannabis industry agree; however, public testimony at Tuesday night's assembly meeting was divided. Store owners were there to point out that they'd adhered to strict standards and guidelines since recreational marijuana was made legal in Alaska in 2015. Local community members voiced concern over the impact it will have on vulnerable populations and the possibility that these new rules would result in an uptick in intoxicated driving.

After public comment came to a close, a few amendments were discussed and a final draft of the ordinance passed with a vote of 7 to 4, but that does not mean you'll be able to eat THC-laced brownies or gummies in stores anytime soon. The process involves getting an endorsement from the city and the state first.

"It could actually happen before the end of summer, but it's hard to say," said Constant. "I anticipate an application will come in within the next few weeks but until we see an actual application, we won't know the exact process."

The unknowns surrounding the endorsement process also have marijuana retailers wondering whether or not this victory is worth the major investment required to set up an on-site consumption area. Buildings must be standalone structures with a separate portion of the store designated for marijuana consumption. There must also be areas where the staff can safely monitor customers as they take these edibles in doses of up to 10mg of THC.

The vice president of Great Northern Cannabis, Jordan Huss, tells KTUU that his company is excited for the progress, but cautious about pursuing on-site consumption at this time.

"I think it's a step in the right direction," Huss said. "I don't think it's exactly what consumers and the industry want, but it's a good starting point for something bigger."

Huss says the requirements for on-site consumption are fair, but with the means of consumption limited only to edibles, some retailers could be hesitant to make the investment needed to receive an on-site consumption endorsement.

"It's going to be a long road for most companies," Huss said. "Depending on building locations, layout, ventilation and finances... there's going to be a lot of things that tie in to whether or not they will be able to have on-site consumption in those facilities."

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