With the flourish of a pen, Alaska is the first state to approve on-site consumption of cannabis at retailers.
The approval was given by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer on March 12 after the state’s Department of Law found no problems with the guidelines put forward by cannabis regulators. The new rules will go into effect April 11.
Business operators who are interested in on-site consumption must apply for an on-site consumption endorsement, which may require local approval as well as state regulatory approval. The regulations would also require certain ventilation and security guidelines to be met, and vendors can only sell up to one gram of cannabis and up to 10 milligrams of edible product per person per day.
Some cities have approved on-site consumption, like Denver, Colorado, but Alaska paves the way for more states to offer a regulatory option state-wide. While there is hope that consumption sites will available this summer, those in the cannabis industry want to get the process right the first time and aren’t in a rush.
“This is something that’s not happening anywhere else in the U.S. yet. As we start to develop this, people are really looking at us, so I know that everybody wants to get it right,” Cary Carrigan, executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, said earlier this month. “I don’t want to have to get this pulled back and revisited.”
“Allowing social consumption is sensible from a business perspective, particularly for states with large amounts of tourists who otherwise have no place to legally consume, but it also has an important social justice component,” said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri in a statement.
“By preventing retail outlets and other venues from being licensed and regulated for social consumption, many patients will have to choose between effective cannabis treatment for their ailments or being thrown out of public housing,” Altieri continued, “This causes the civil liberties that come with marijuana legalization to still being kept at arm’s length from low-income individuals and members of other marginalized communities.”