Proposed on-site marijuana ordinance 'could go either way'

Published: May. 21, 2019 at 6:32 PM AKDT
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The Anchorage Assembly will hear public testimony on the municipality's plan to legalize on-site consumption for marijuana edibles at licensed shops on Tuesday night, and could vote on the proposed ordinance the same night.

"It's hard to say exactly where we are. It will depend on what the public has to say and how persuasive they are in the conversation. It could go either way," assemblyman Christopher Constant said.

In December of last year the Lieutenant Governor signed off on the Alaska Marijuana Control Board's vote to allow on-site consumption under certain circumstances. Since then, municipalities have been working to amend their ordinances.

"Back when the voters approved the legalization of marijuana, they came up with the policy position that essentially said 'let's regulate marijuana like we do alcohol.' And so the industry has been asking for the right to serve their products to the public and have a place for the public to go, just like we have bars," Constant said. "So much of this is in response to that, but the complexity of the issue of consumption by inhalation makes it so that we're going to delay that question and have more public process."

The proposed ordinance only addresses edible products. Marijuana industry leaders say misconceptions about the proposed regulation are common.

"The biggest problem that I think that we have as far as misconceptions go about what's happening is that people think that it is going to be a one stop, fix-all regulation. And it's not. It's going to have to become more elaborate," said Cary Carrigan, Executive Director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association. "There are a ton of ways to use marijuana and there are a ton of reasons to use marijuana. Cannabis itself has got this dynamic where it's not just one size fits all. It's not just one stop, stamp it and you're done."

On-site consumption of marijuana in the form of concentrates, pre-rolls or joints and vaping are not addressed in the proposed ordinance.

"I think there's more expansion that's going to be needed from this," Carrigan said. "I think people are happy we're going to be able to do on-site consumption in some capacity this year for the tourists, and I think that the people who are opposed to any kind of smoking whatsoever are going to be satisfied for now, but I think it'll slowly and gradually expand."

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