Marijuana Control Board adopts rules allowing regulated on-site cannabis consumption


Last update: December 21, 2018


On December 20, 2018, regulators on the Marijuana Control Board voted to adopt sensible regulations allowing consumers 21 and over to consume cannabis at licensed locations. Once implemented, businesses with dispensary licenses could seek an endorsement from the state that would allow them to set aside space for consumers. This is a significant improvement to the state’s regulatory system, which prohibits consumption in “public,” effectively banning cannabis use outside a private residence. Many Alaskans objected to the fact that the more dangerous substance, alcohol, is commonly available at bars and restaurants, while cannabis consumers were told to stay home. With this change, adults, such as tourists who do not have access to a private residence, will have an option in those communities that allow on-site consumption.  

While the board voted to adopt the new rules, the proposed regulations still need to be reviewed by the state Department of Law and signed by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer before taking effect. Passage of the new rules was less than certain, with anti-smoking forces mounting an opposition campaign over the previous several months. Lawmakers laid the foundation for the board’s decision earlier in 2018 by making an important exception for cannabis in the state’s recently passed smoking law.

The change is historic. While some states, including California and Colorado, allow local communities to develop rules for on-site consumption, Alaska’s regulatory framework not only applies statewide, it also represents the first set of robust rules — more comprehensive than anything previously seen. It is likely that Alaska’s approach will serve as a model as other states consider how best to accommodate consumers. Great news Alaska!

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