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Juneau, Alaska Assembly Approves Local On-Site Consumption

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Alaska’s capital city approved an ordinance to allow patrons to consume cannabis-infused products inside licensed retailers and smoke in designated outdoor areas.

The ordinance was passed with a 6-2 vote, with Mayor Beth Weldon voting against it because she didn’t like the smoking in public aspect. Prior to the vote, Weldon proposed an amendment that would only allow public smoking via vaping in order to cut down on the secondhand smoke in the air, but the amendment failed. “I don’t care if you’re inside or outside eating the edibles,” Weldon said. “What I do have a problem with is the smoke.”

Other assemblymembers were for the ordinance and said that cannabis should be regulated like cigarettes. The ordinance is planned to take effect in August and businesses must receive an endorsement from the state Marijuana Control Board before they can offer on-site consumption.

During public testimony, both people for and against on-site consumption were critical of the ordinance, with some residents explaining the harmful effects of secondhand smoke. Many connected to the cannabis industry criticized the ordinance for not allowing on-site smoking, which is allowed under state law.

Before the passing of the ordinance, tourists on cruise ships that were visiting the city had no place to legally use cannabis in the city. “The city understands that there are many people that come off of cruise ships or that come to town that want to consider consuming marijuana, and I think the Assembly understood those concerns and is trying to find and strike an appropriate balance,” City Attorney Robert Palmer said.

State regulations say the consumption rooms must be separate from the rest of the store by using a secure door and separate ventilation system or by being outside. There is also a limit to how much cannabis can be sold to a person in one day—edible products not exceeding 10 mg of THC and cannabis flower not exceed one gram.

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