Politics  The latest in cannabis legalization including laws and policies, legislators’ views, election coverage, and more.

Alaska to Weigh Rules for On-Site Consumption at Retail Stores

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Marijuana regulators in Alaska plan to consider rules this week for consuming marijuana products at authorized retail cannabis stores — a first among states that have legalized adult use.

Late last year, the Marijuana Control Board voted to allow people to use marijuana at certain stores that will sell it. But rules surrounding in-store use still need to be ironed out.

No licenses have been issued yet.

At its meeting in Anchorage on Wednesday, the board plans to consider three sets of proposed rules for onsite consumption. Whatever is settled on is expected to be put out for public comment.

Board staff, board chair Bruce Schulte and board member Peter Mlynarik each proposed a set of draft rules to be discussed. Schulte said each is conservative in its approach and it will be up to the board to pull something together from the proposals.

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All three call for separation between consumption and non-consumption areas, with varying details for how that would look. Two, for example, propose a separation by a securable door.

Differences between the drafts crop up in areas such as quantities and whether to allow for marijuana purchased for in-store use to be taken off site if not fully consumed.

Schulte said he expects some discussion Wednesday about the timeline for approval of applications. He said concerns have been raised about the schedule.

The board began accepting applications in February. A tentative timeline has suggested the first licenses for cultivation and testing could be approved in June, with the first retail and product manufacturing facility licenses approved later in the year.

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State lawmakers last week approved legislation allowing for national criminal history checks for license applicants. That bill will go to Gov. Bill Walker for consideration. Cynthia Franklin, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, said the impact of waiting for that language has been "very minimal to none" because few applications have gotten to that point.

One of her more immediate concerns is the level of office staffing to handle the workload. She said the office doesn't have enough staff and the idea of doing more with less is a fallacy.

"You cannot have a highly regulated industry where people are carefully examining documents and then skimp on the number of people that are available to do that and have the expectation that that is going to have no effect on the time that it takes to process the application," she said.

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