After legalizing weed in 2014, it has taken a little bit of time to set up the Alaska weed retail industry. Now the state is in the final stretch of setting this up as a new setback for weed shops has occurred. The 5 person Marijuana Control Board has voted to not allow marijuana consumption to occur in Alaska weed stores. The project was put forth in order to allow tourists and smokers alike to have a private, secluded place to legally consume marijuana. Stores would have separated sealed off areas where the social consumption could take place without interfering with other customers. The businesses that were confident the proposal would be approved were shocked and disappointed by the decision and Executive Director of the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association Cary Carrigan said they are not giving up on the issue and will continue to pursue it until a solution is found.
A Direct Reaction to the Jeff Sessions Nomination
Mark Springer, a Control Board member who voted against the proposal, told his fellow board members, “We don’t want to draw a whole lot of attention to what is going on in this state with marijuana. We don’t want a million people getting off a cruise ship in Juneau saying, ‘Oh yeah, it’s great. We’re going to go over a half-dozen stores and smoke marijuana,’ because it will draw a big spotlight on us.” A great sense of fear regarding Trump’s nomination of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General has stirred up fear of public attention being placed on Alaska weed laws. Sessions has been very vocal about his disdain for marijuana and many fear what he will do if he becomes the next Attorney General.
Other Reasons Public Consumption of Alaska Weed Was Blocked
Loren Jones, another board member, voted against the proposal after receiving negative comments from the public. Sara Chambers, the acting director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office, noticed that all 3 public notices had been issued incorrectly. She informed the board that they’d need to send them all out again in order for the project to move forward. The board would either need to do that or abandon and reject the project. The board’s vote shows they went with the latter decision.
Nick Miller and Brandon Emmett voted to approve the proposal and were disappointed by the outcome, calling it a “shortsighted decision” that is rooted in “perceived dangers and political fear.” The board first began to write up regulations for the proposal in November 2015. Since then it was delayed numerous times. Now the denial of forward movement has left many unsettled.
Blocking Tourists from Enjoying Recreational Marijuana
Alaska receives more than two million tourists per year, mostly in the summer, who spent $1.9 billion in Alaska from 2014 to 2015. Over half of them come from cruise ships. The legalization of recreational marijuana and the smoking of it is likely to be appealing to many tourists who will now have nowhere to consume it legally as consumption in hotels and cruise ships is illegal.
Although the proposal is denied for now, the issue will continue to be important to Alaska weed businesses and will continue to be revisited until a solution is made that satisfies everyone.