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Cannabis Social Clubs Are Illegal, Alaska AG Says

August 31, 2016
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska’s attorney general said Wednesday that marijuana social clubs are illegal, addressing what had been a hazy area following the state’s legalization of recreational cannabis.

The legal opinion does not apply to licensed retail cannabis shops, for which state regulators are considering rules allowing cannabis consumption. The first retail shop licenses have yet to be approved.

At issue are clubs that charge fees for patrons to use cannabis onsite or that otherwise provide access to a significant number of people to consume cannabis there. Those are illegal, according to the opinion by Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth.

“Under Alaska law, a business cannot sell or provide marijuana or allow marijuana to be consumed on the premises unless it is licensed as a retail cannabis store by the Marijuana Control Board,” Lindemuth wrote.

Voters in 2014 approved legalizing recreational cannabis for those 21 and older in Alaska. The initiative banned consuming in public, though the board, which regulates the industry, last year approved a carve-out to allow for onsite use at authorized retail shops.

Unlicensed social clubs are public places that, like other businesses, fall under the prohibition of public consumption, Lindemuth said.

The opinion was requested by the state commerce commissioner. The state’s Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office falls under the commerce department.

The office’s director, Cynthia Franklin, said by email that the office was aware of five or six clubs in Alaska.

The commerce department said marijuana regulators lack the authority to license social clubs and would work with local law enforcement to address illegal cannabis use. The department said local governments could use their powers to crack down on illegal clubs.

Cary Carrigan, executive director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, called it another bump as the industry gets set up. But he said he doesn’t think it will be a major sticking point into the future.

“I think that we’ll slowly answer all of these questions as we move forward,” Carrigan said, adding later: “It’s just a matter of how fast do you want to address it, and do you want to send a temperance league out in the meantime?”

  • Stephen Stillwell

    So, private clubs… and/or private associations with a number of locations…

  • Scott Hubachek

    Thats it, blame the clubs for the Government not putting in place regulations.
    No different then a wine, or cigar club.

  • Geoff Jacobs

    Please tell me what the difference is between an establishment that serves Cannabis where people socialize and eat and enjoy each other’s company; and an establishment that serves ALCOHOL where people socialize and eat and enjoy each other’s company??
    The difference is, one substance is SAFER than the other and the folks that are intoxicated from it are much more likely to let someone else drive them home, and you won’t get an argument out of them!
    For God’s sake, when are the CHILDREN in political positions going to start acting like mature, responsible, educated ADULTS??

  • Tasslehoff Burrfoot

    The last freedom for Cannabis. The freedom to be consumed with others legally.