Budding Industry: We have a problem

by Whitney Branshaw in Anchorage Press

We have a big fucking problem, people. The problem is that we now tabled the option of having the opportunity to have onsite consumption at retail locations here in Alaska, as a direct result of “formatting failures by AMCO staff that resulted in deficient public notice.” Please note: Director Chambers explained that the public notice was deficient for the third time by the AMCO staff.

Pay attention, now, and keep your eyes and ears open. Something is wrong here. This was a potential regulation that was born out of the need to accommodate our large tourism industry. We have thousands of tourists that flock to our state every year and we in the industry expect those numbers to increase due to the fact that we have legal marijuana. You get Alaska and you get legal weed–for some people that  sweetens the deal to travel to our state. This creates a tricky situation: Where do customers consume the product(s) they buy in local retail stores legally and safely? Certainly not legally in their hotel rooms or on their cruise ship or on the train. This potential regulation also affects residents who don’t have a legal space to consume. Think about folks that live in apartment buildings or parents who don’t want to smoke in their own homes or anyone who wants to have a legal toke with friends. So the cannabis community pushed for onsite consumption as a way to keep folks in the safe zone and not unnecessarily in trouble for consuming the legal substance.

Today at the Marijuana Control Board (MCB) meeting in Juneau it was decided in a 3-2 vote that it would not be sending this potential regulation back out for public comment due to the regulation being improperly noticed to the public by AMCO staff, three times, according to acting interim Director Sara Chambers. This means that this potential regulation is now dead in the water. Jana Weltzin, owner of JDW, LLC, a law firm that represents many marijuana businesses here in our state called me today and shared her thoughts on this matter: “Someone or some entity is trying to circumvent the MCB’s authority to make regulations regarding onsite consumption. I wonder how many other sections of the regulations have faulty public notice. My guess is none. At least none that have been deemed faulty enough to hold back any other of the regulations. Meaning, this specific regulation has gotten interesting treatment. It seems to me that three failures to properly notice the public was a very strategic maneuver. This definitely shakes the foundation of public trust in the historically corrupt history of Alaskan policy making that we have been trying to clean up.”

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