Pubdate: Thu, 28 Apr 2016
Source: Alaska Dispatch News (AK)
Copyright: 2016 Alaska Dispatch Publishing
Note: Anchorage Daily News until July '14
Author: Laurel Andrews


No happy hours, but serving food and non-alcoholic beverages would be 
allowed in Alaska's marijuana cafes, according to draft rules 
accepted by the state's Marijuana Control Board.

On Tuesday, the board agreed on draft regulations that show the first 
details of what the "on-site consumption" area, akin to a cafe or 
bar, would look like. The draft now heads to the public for comment.

Alaska is the only state where regulators have carved out in their 
rules a public place where people can go to smoke or eat cannabis.

After much public debate about whether to allow for an area to 
consume marijuana -- notably for tourists, who have nowhere private 
to smoke cannabis they may purchase in Alaska's retail stores -- the 
board approved the rule in November.

Since Alaska is the only state tackling the issue of on-site 
consumption, Marijuana Control Board chair Bruce Schulte said the 
board should proceed with a "suitable degree of caution," and that 
the provision is likely to cause "the most angst" for local officials 
of any of the marijuana regulations.

Here are the details of the first draft:

Existing marijuana retail stores would apply for a separate license 
for the consumption area, which would have to be located on the same 
premises. The area could be either indoors or outdoors, but must be 
separate from the retail store, with its own door, serving area and 
ventilation system. Businesses would pay a $1,000 fee for what the 
board calls the "on-site consumption endorsement."

As with a bar or cafe, people would purchase small amounts of 
marijuana to consume on-site. People would not be allowed to bring 
their own cannabis to smoke or eat.

To avoid overconsumption, the board would set limits on how much 
could be sold in a single transaction. A person could buy only 1 gram 
of marijuana bud, marijuana edibles with 10 milligrams of THC, or 
0.25 grams of marijuana concentrates. If a person didn't finish the 
marijuana, they would have to leave it behind to be destroyed.

Discussed at length was whether dabbing (smoking highly concentrated 
doses of THC extracted from cannabis) should be allowed, and the 
appropriate amount for a person to purchase without being overly intoxicated.

With "all eyes being on us ... (the question) 'Do dabbing and driving 
mix?' is a very important conversation to have," said Alcohol and 
Marijuana Control Office director Cynthia Franklin.

Board member Brandon Emmett advocated to allow dabbing, although he 
said the draft amount of 0.25 grams would be "fat dab," causing some 
chuckles from the audience.

Businesses would have to provide marijuana safety and dosage 
information free of charge for each product sold at the site. Food 
and non-alcoholic beverages could also be sold in the consumption area.

Like the retail stores, only people over 21 years of age could enter 
the area, and employees would have to monitor the store's patrons for 
overconsumption. Employees couldn't partake of any products while at 
work, allow intoxicated people to come inside or stick around or sell 
to an intoxicated person.

No happy hours, contests or deliveries would be allowed, also to 
avoid promoting overconsumption, said Franklin.

Local indoor smoking bans still apply. Local governments could also, 
under the draft rules, protest individual establishments.

'That's all I wanted'

In another notable development from Tuesday's meeting, the board 
allowed stalled applications to move forward by authorizing the 
Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office to deem applications complete 
before the results of national background checks are in.

Potential marijuana businesses began applying for licenses on Feb. 
24, but so far, none have been deemed complete. That's because the 
staff of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office was waiting until 
the board had the ability to process national background checks, 
although there was no statutory requirement to do so, the board's 
general counsel, Harriet Milks, said Tuesday.

Schulte's motion authorized the office to "defer any criminal 
background checks to the tail end of the application review process 
and not let that stall the applications further," Schulte said after the vote.

Eight applications that are finished, but had been stalled due to the 
background check issue, will now be deemed complete and forwarded to 
local governments for review, Franklin said.

"That's all I wanted. That was my one goal for today," Schulte said later.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom