Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jul 2016
Source: Alaska Dispatch News (AK)
Copyright: 2016 Alaska Dispatch Publishing
Note: Anchorage Daily News until July '14
Author: Laurel Andrews


Specifics of Alaska's marijuana bars remain on the table, as the 
state Marijuana Control Board voted Thursday to send draft rules 
governing the proposed bars back for public comment, with only one minor tweak.

"It is proving to be one of the more high-interest regulatory 
projects that we've had," board member Mark Springer said during 
Thursday's meeting. "There's a lot of public concern about this; 
there's a lot of support for it."

Initial draft rules were approved in May. Retail stores would apply 
for a separate license for the "on-site consumption area," akin to a 
bar or cafe, where customers could use marijuana.

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. 
With no precedent to follow, the board is moving forward cautiously.

"We need to do more work on this," Board Chair Peter Mlynarik said.

As the rules stand now, food and nonalcoholic beverages could be 
served. The consumption area could be either indoors or outdoors, but 
it would need to be removed from the rest of the store with a 
separate entryway and ventilation system. Limits are set on how much 
a person can buy in a single transaction.

The only change made to the rules Thursday allows consumers to take 
any unused product out of the consumption area when they leave, 
stored in a child-proof container, instead of having to consume it 
all or throw some away.

Major aspects that remain up in the air are ventilation - and how to 
ensure employee health and safety in a room where there is cannabis 
smoke - and tracking the marijuana purchases.

Concerns about secondhand smoke - and whether servers exposed to that 
smoke would get high - were among the topics of discussion Thursday. 
Board member Brandon Emmett introduced language that would put the 
burden to provide adequate ventilation on the businesses, but a lack 
of specifics caused it to be voted down.

"We can definitely come up with regulations that are measurable and 
enforceable," Emmett said afterwards.

Currently, the draft rules for marijuana bars would allow customers 
to make a purchase from a retail store, then wander over and purchase 
additional marijuana for consumption on-site. The board discussed 
whether that created a way for people to bypass the limit of 1 ounce 
of marijuana allowed for purchase under the law.

There was also discussion about whether a person would be permitted 
to consume more than what is safe and then potentially operate a 
vehicle, similar to concerns with traditional bars that serve alcohol.

But the board didn't adopt any further changes to the rules Thursday. 
Now, they will go back out to the public for additional comment 
before returning to the board during their meeting in September.

There's no timeline for the board to complete the rules; Alaska 
Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office director Cynthia Franklin noted 
some projects related to alcohol have stretched out over three years.

The meeting will continue Friday. The board will continue reviewing 
31 proposed marijuana businesses up for license consideration.

The board will also consider whether growers will be able to use 
mature "mother" plants at the onset  the cuttings of which are used 
to create clones  or if all plants will need to be immature when 
state inspectors tour a newly opened facility.

Also worth noting from Thursday's meeting:

* Gov. Bill Walker signed a bill into law this week authorizing the 
state to send marijuana business owners' fingerprints to the FBI for 
a national background check. Those background checks won't come back 
until roughly October. About 200 licenses are likely to be approved 
by then, Franklin said, and any delays for the businesses will occur 
only if a background check comes back flagged.

* The board also voted to remove the control office director's 
ability to cast the deciding vote in case of a tie. That means if 
only 4 board members are present, and there is a tie vote, the motion 
will fail.

* As of July 1, 373 license applications had been received by the 
state. Of those, 52 had been voided, and the rest were in various 
stages of completion. Four are "active," awaiting the state's final inspection.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom