Pot board convenes to finalize regs

first_imgThe state is set to finalize commercial marijuana regulations. But several controversial sticking points have yet to be settled, including rules for on-site consumption.Voters approved the legal the production, sale and use of marijuana for Alaskans over 21 years old in the November election. (Creative Commons photo by Brett Levin)Download AudioThe state’s Marijuana Control Board has spent months writing rules to determine how Alaskans are allowed to grow, sell, and use marijuana. On Friday the five-member board will discuss around 50 proposed amendments, most of them based on feedback submitted from the public.“We received over 500 pages of comments from the public,” said Marijuana Control Board Chair Bruce Schulte, adding that the original package of policies is only 130 pages. “So, a lotta folks are paying attention.”Once the regulations are finalized they’ll go to the Department of Law for review, and then on to the lieutenant governor for approval. There’s a chance that actions from the legislature could disrupt that timeline.If things advance on schedule, the state is required to have a permit system in place and begin accepting commercial applications by Feb. 24, 2016.“But then, this is an agricultural product, of course, so people still have to grow some product, and dry it and cure it and prepare it,” Schulte said. Taking the full timeline into consideration, he thinks commercial sales at retail stores will begin this summer.  “Somewhere between June and August.”One of the biggest points of friction in the developing regulations is over “on-site consumption,’” which determines whether the state will allow for marijuana cafes or clubs. Draft regulations in their current form don’t allow a venue like a bar–but for marijuana. Schulte is submitting amendments that would create a permit option for businesses allowing on-site consumption based on strong public input.“Not just from people in the cannabis culture,” he added,  “but also from city officials — notably Juneau and Fairbanks, who actually requested that businesses of that type be defined in the regulations.”The state’s meeting coincides with a new draft document in Anchorage laying out detailed regulations on commercial marijuana in what many expect to be Alaska’s largest marijuana market. The ordinance came from the Community and Economic Development committee that handles Title 21, the code governing land use, which is chaired by conservative Assembly Member Amy Demboski. The proposal is new, but beginning to draw criticism for placing a cumbersome burden on growers and commercial operators. The draft requires businesses to take steps like forecasting potential amounts of wastewater, receive certification from an “industrial hygienist,” and keep growing plants organized in “orderly rows.” The ordinance needs Assembly approval before it can take effect.The Marijuana Control Board meets Friday in the Anchorage Legislative Information Office, and again on Monday if they don’t finalize regulationslast_img